Research Summary

Intermediate Fellowship research summary

Prokaryotes and eukaryotes alike utilize asymmetric cell division as a mechanism to generate offspring with differing developmental fates. Mechanistically, this is governed by the precise localization and/or timely control in abundance/activity of regulatory molecules that implement progeny-specific transcriptional programs. The dimorphic, synchronizable bacterium, Caulobacter crescentus has emerged as a powerful and genetically tractable model system to study the asymmetric cell division cycle. Caulobacter divides into two morphologically dissimilar daughter cells, a swarmer or dispersal cell, and a stalked or progenitor cell. Cell fate in Caulobacter is primarily implemented by the cell fate determinant, DivK. Two unorthodox regulators, the muramidase homolog, SpmX, and the KidO oxidoreductase homolog regulate the activity of DivK through the kinase, DivJ. The focus of my research is to (i) understand the mechanism(s) of spatio-temporal regulation of DivJ by SpmX and KidO, and its coordination with other cell cycle events, such as cell division, (ii) employ next generation sequencing (SEQ) techniques to identify new key targets of the developmental program in Caulobacter through multiplexed chromatin immunopreciptitation (ChIP)-SEQ and mRNA-SEQ, and (iii) explore the connectivity of the newly identified targets within the developmental framework using the power of bacterial genetics.