A metabolic sensor governing cell size in bacteria

Cell. 2007 Jul 27;130(2):335-47. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2007.05.043.


Nutrient availability is one of the strongest determinants of cell size. When grown in rich media, single-celled organisms such as yeast and bacteria can be up to twice the size of their slow-growing counterparts. The ability to modulate size in a nutrient-dependent manner requires cells to: (1) detect when they have reached the appropriate mass for a given growth rate and (2) transmit this information to the division apparatus. We report the identification of a metabolic sensor that couples nutritional availability to division in Bacillus subtilis. A key component of this sensor is an effector, UgtP, which localizes to the division site in a nutrient-dependent manner and inhibits assembly of the tubulin-like cell division protein FtsZ. This sensor serves to maintain a constant ratio of FtsZ rings to cell length regardless of growth rate and ensures that cells reach the appropriate mass and complete chromosome segregation prior to cytokinesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus subtilis / cytology*
  • Bacillus subtilis / growth & development
  • Bacillus subtilis / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / ultrastructure
  • Chromosome Segregation / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / ultrastructure
  • DNA Replication
  • Food
  • Models, Biological
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Phenotype
  • Protein Transport
  • Uridine Diphosphate Glucose / biosynthesis


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • FtsZ protein, Bacteria
  • Uridine Diphosphate Glucose