Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

The spatial localisation of proteins is critical for most cellular function. In bacteria, this is typically achieved through capture by established landmark proteins. However, this requires that the protein is diffusive on the appropriate timescale. It is therefore unknown how the localisation of effectively immobile proteins is achieved. Here, we investigate the localisation to the division site of the slowly diffusing lipoprotein Pal, which anchors the outer membrane to the cell wall of Gram-negative bacteria. While the proton motive force-linked TolQRAB system is known to be required for this repositioning, the underlying mechanism is unresolved, especially given the very low mobility of Pal. We present a quantitative, mathematical model for Pal relocalisation in which dissociation of TolB-Pal complexes, powered by the proton motive force across the inner membrane, leads to the net transport of Pal along the outer membrane and its deposition at the division septum. We fit the model to experimental measurements of protein mobility and successfully test its predictions experimentally against mutant phenotypes. Our model not only explains a key aspect of cell division in Gram-negative bacteria, but also presents a physical mechanism for the transport of low-mobility proteins that may be applicable to multi-membrane organelles, such as mitochondria and chloroplasts.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS Comput Biol

Publication Date