Maintenance of heterocyst patterning in a filamentous cyanobacterium

Zhu, Mei
Callahan, Sean M.
Allen, John S.
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Taylor & Francis Group
In the absence of sufficient combined nitrogen, some filamentous cyanobacteria differentiate nitrogenfixing heterocysts at approximately every 10th cell position. As cells between heterocysts grow and divide, this initial pattern is maintained by the differentiation of a single cell approximately midway between existing heterocysts. This paper introduces a mathematical model for the maintenance of the periodic pattern of heterocysts differentiated by Anabaena sp. strain PCC 7120 based on the current experimental knowledge of the system. The model equations describe a non-diffusing activator (HetR) and two inhibitors (PatS and HetN) that undergo diffusion in a growing one-dimensional domain. The inhibitors in this model have distinct diffusion rates and temporal expression patterns. These unique aspects of the model reflect recent experimental findings regarding the molecular interactions that regulate patterning in Anabaena. Output from the model is in good agreement with both the temporal and spatial characteristics of the pattern maintenance process observed experimentally.
pattern formation, reaction diffusion, bacteria, Anabaena
Mei Zhu , Sean M. Callahan & John S. Allen (2010) Maintenance of heterocyst patterning in a filamentous cyanobacterium, Journal of Biological Dynamics, 4:6, 621-633, DOI: 10.1080/17513751003777507.
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