Using conditional independence tests to elucidate causal links in cell cycle regulation in Escherichia coli

Prathitha Kar, Sriram Tiruvadi-Krishnan, Jaana Männik, Jaan Männik, Ariel Amir

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

How cells regulate their cell cycles is a central question for cell biology. Models of cell size homeostasis have been proposed for bacteria, archaea, yeast, plant, and mammalian cells. New experiments bring forth high volumes of data suitable for testing existing models of cell size regulation and proposing new mechanisms. In this paper, we use conditional independence tests in conjunction with data of cell size at key cell cycle events (birth, initiation of DNA replication, and constriction) in the model bacterium Escherichia coli to select between the competing cell cycle models. We find that in all growth conditions that we study, the division event is controlled by the onset of constriction at midcell. In slow growth, we corroborate a model where replicationrelated processes control the onset of constriction at midcell. In faster growth, we find that the onset of constriction is affected by additional cues beyond DNA replication. Finally, we also find evidence for the presence of additional cues triggering initiations of DNA replication apart from the conventional notion where the mother cells solely determine the initiation event in the daughter cells via an adder per origin model. The use of conditional independence tests is a different approach in the context of understanding cell cycle regulation and it can be used in future studies to further explore the causal links between cell events.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere2214796120
Number of pages11
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - PNAS
Volume120
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 14 Mar 2023

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