The initiation mass for DNA replication in Escherichia coli K-12 is dependent on growth rate

EMBO J. 1994 May 1;13(9):2097-102.


It is widely accepted that the initiation mass of Escherichia coli is constant and independent of growth rate, and therefore is an important parameter in the regulation of initiation of DNA replication. We have used flow cytometry to measure the initiation mass of E. coli K-12 cells as a function of growth rate. The average initiation mass was determined by two methods: (i) from a mathematical relationship between average cell mass, cell age at initiation and number of origins present in the cells, and (ii) directly from the cell mass distribution. The light scattering signal from individual cells and the protein content per cell were employed as measures of cell mass. The initiation mass was found to increase monotonically with decreasing growth rate, being 1.6 times higher (light scattering) or 2.1 times higher (protein content) at 0.3 than at 2.5 doublings per hour. We conclude that the initiation mass is dependent on growth rate. This finding indicates that the control for timing of initiation is not governed by a direct connection between mass accumulation and the molecule(s) determining initiation of replication.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division / drug effects
  • Cell Division / physiology
  • DNA Replication*
  • DNA, Bacterial / biosynthesis
  • Escherichia coli / drug effects
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Rifampin / pharmacology
  • Time Factors


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Rifampin