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Reverse and forward engineering of protein pattern formation

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Kretschmer,  Simon
Schwille, Petra / Cellular and Molecular Biophysics, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Harrington,  Leon
Schwille, Petra / Cellular and Molecular Biophysics, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Schwille,  Petra
Schwille, Petra / Cellular and Molecular Biophysics, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Citation

Kretschmer, S., Harrington, L., & Schwille, P. (2018). Reverse and forward engineering of protein pattern formation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London, Series B: Biological Sciences, 373(1747): 20170104. doi:10.1098/rstb.2017.0104.


Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0002-7830-1
Abstract
Living systems employ protein pattern formation to regulate important life processes in space and time. Although pattern-forming protein networks have been identified in various prokaryotes and eukaryotes, their systematic experimental characterization is challenging owing to the complex environment of living cells. In turn, cell-free systems are ideally suited for this goal, as they offer defined molecular environments that can be precisely controlled and manipulated. Towards revealing the molecular basis of protein pattern formation, we outline two complementary approaches: the biochemical reverse engineering of reconstituted networks and the de novo design, or forward engineering, of artificial self-organizing systems. We first illustrate the reverse engineering approach by the example of the Escherichia coli Min system, a model system for protein self-organization based on the reversible and energy-dependent interaction of the ATPase MinD and its activating protein MinE with a lipid membrane. By reconstituting MinE mutants impaired in ATPase stimulation, we demonstrate how large-scale Min protein patterns are modulated by MinE activity and concentration. We then provide a perspective on the de novo design of self-organizing protein networks. Tightly integrated reverse and forward engineering approaches will be key to understanding and engineering the intriguing phenomenon of protein pattern formation. This article is part of the theme issue ‘Self-organization in cell biology’.