Washington University in St. Louis
Campus Box 1137
One Brookings Drive
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
DBBS graduate programs Plant and Microbial Biosciences Program
Molecular Microbiology and Microbial Pathogenesis Program
Molecular Cell Biology Program
Our work seeks to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the temporal and spatial control of cell division.
All cells precisely control division to ensure that daughter cells are the correct size and shape and that each receives a complete genome. A short generation time--approximately 20 minutes under ideal growth conditions--coupled with the ease of genetic manipulation, make bacteria ideal model systems in which to study cytokinesis.
The focus of our research is the highly conserved tubulin homolog FtsZ. In response to an unidentified cell cycle signal FtsZ assembles into a ring structure that serves as a framework for assembly of the division apparatus. The FtsZ ring remains in place until a second unidentified signal stimulates constriction of the ring at the leading edge of the invaginating septum.
Our goals are:
• To identify components of the regulatory network responsible for modulating FtsZ assembly.
• To employ genetics, cell biology, and biochemistry to understand how these factors act in concert to control cytokinesis.
Photo caption: A chain of six Bacillus subtilis cells stained with flourescently tagged antibodies against two components of the division apparatus.
1. Vadia, S. and P. A. Levin, (2015) Growth rate and cell size: a re-examination of the growth law, Current Opinion in Microbiology. PMID: 25662920
2. Arjes, H. A. , A. Kriel, N. A. Sorto, J. T. Shaw, J. D. Wang and P. A. Levin. (2014) Failsafe mechanisms couple division and DNA replication in bacteria, Current Biology. 24(18): 2149-2155. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.07.055.
3.Hill, N. S., P. J. Buske, Y. Shi, and P. A. Levin. (2013) A moonlighting enzyme links Escherichia coli cell size with central metabolism, PLoS Genetics 9(7): e1003663.doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.10036. (Abstract/PDF)
4. Buske, P. J. and P. A. Levin. (2013) A flexible C-terminal linker is required for proper FtsZ assembly in vitro and cytokinetic ring formation in vivo, Mol. Microbiol. PMID: 23692518. (Abstract/PDF)
5. Chien, A-C, S. K. Zareh, Y. M. Wang and P. A. Levin. Changes in the oligomerization potential of the division inhibitor UgtP coordinate Bacillus subtilis cell size with nutrient availability, Mol. Microbiol. 2012 86:594-610. PMID: 22931116 (Abstract/PDF)
6. Chien, A-C., N. S. Hill and P. A. Levin (2012) Cell size control in bacteria, Current Biology, Current Biology, 22(9):R340-9. (Abstract/PDF)
7. Hill, N. S., R. Kadoya, D. K. Chattoraj, and P. A. Levin (2012), Cell size and the initiation of DNA replication in bacteria, PLoS Genet 8(3): e1002549. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1002549.
Subject of special Research Highlight in Nature Reviews Microbiology, Cellular microbiology: Replication comes in all sizes, Nature Reviews Microbiology 10, 312-313 (May 2012).
8. Buske, P. J. and P. A. Levin. (2012) The extreme C-terminus of the bacterial cytoskeletal protein FtsZ plays a fundamental role in assembly independent of modulatory proteins, J. Biol Chem., 287:10945-10957. (Abstract/PDF)
9. Wang, J. D. and P. A. Levin (2009). Metabolism, cell growth, and the bacterial cell cycle, Nature Reviews Microbiology, 7: 822-827.
10. Haeusser, D. P., A. H. Lee, R. B., Weart and P. A. Levin. (2009) ClpX inhibits FtsZ assembly in a manner that does not require its ATP hydrolysis-dependent chaperone activity, J.Bacteriol., 191:1986-1991. (PubMed)
11. Weart, R. B., A. H. Lee, A-C Chien, D. P. Haeusser, N. S. Hill and P. A. Levin. (2007) A metabolic sensor governing cell size in bacteria, Cell, 130:335-347. (PDF)