Spatial organization in bacterial chemotaxis

EMBO J. 2010 Aug 18;29(16):2724-33. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2010.178.


Spatial organization of signalling is not an exclusive property of eukaryotic cells. Despite the fact that bacterial signalling pathways are generally simpler than those in eukaryotes, there are several well-documented examples of higher-order intracellular signalling structures in bacteria. One of the most prominent and best-characterized structures is formed by proteins that control bacterial chemotaxis. Signals in chemotaxis are processed by ordered arrays, or clusters, of receptors and associated proteins, which amplify and integrate chemotactic stimuli in a highly cooperative manner. Receptor clusters further serve to scaffold protein interactions, enhancing the efficiency and specificity of the pathway reactions and preventing the formation of signalling gradients through the cell body. Moreover, clustering can also ensure spatial separation of multiple chemotaxis systems in one bacterium. Assembly of receptor clusters appears to be a stochastic process, but bacteria evolved mechanisms to ensure optimal cluster distribution along the cell body for partitioning to daughter cells at division.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / cytology*
  • Bacteria / metabolism
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Chemotaxis*
  • Signal Transduction


  • Bacterial Proteins