Dependence of diffusion in Escherichia coli cytoplasm on protein size, environmental conditions and cell growth.

eLife 11 (2022) e82654

Authors:

Nicola Bellotto, Jaime Agudo-Canalejo, Remy Colin, Ramin Golestanian, Gabriele Malengo, Victor Sourjik

Abstract:

Inside prokaryotic cells, passive translational diffusion typically limits the rates with which cytoplasmic proteins can reach their locations. Diffusion is thus fundamental to most cellular processes, but the understanding of protein mobility in the highly crowded and non-homogeneous environment of a bacterial cell is still limited. Here we investigated the mobility of a large set of proteins in the cytoplasm of Escherichia coli, by employing fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) combined with simulations and theoretical modeling. We conclude that cytoplasmic protein mobility could be well described by Brownian diffusion in the confined geometry of the bacterial cell and at the high viscosity imposed by macromolecular crowding. We observed similar size dependence of protein diffusion for the majority of tested proteins, whether native or foreign to E. coli. For the faster-diffusing proteins, this size dependence is well consistent with the Stokes-Einstein relation once taking into account the specific dumbbell shape of protein fusions. Pronounced subdiffusion and hindered mobility are only observed for proteins with extensive interactions within the cytoplasm. Finally, while protein diffusion becomes markedly faster in actively growing cells, at high temperature, or upon treatment with rifampicin, and slower at high osmolarity, all of these perturbations affect proteins of different sizes in the same proportions, which could thus be described as changes of a well-defined cytoplasmic viscosity.

Active matter in space.

NPJ microgravity 8:1 (2022) 54

Authors:

Giorgio Volpe, Clemens Bechinger, Frank Cichos, Ramin Golestanian, Hartmut Löwen, Matthias Sperl, Giovanni Volpe

Abstract:

In the last 20 years, active matter has been a highly dynamic field of research, bridging fundamental aspects of non-equilibrium thermodynamics with applications to biology, robotics, and nano-medicine. Active matter systems are composed of units that can harvest and harness energy and information from their environment to generate complex collective behaviours and forms of self-organisation. On Earth, gravity-driven phenomena (such as sedimentation and convection) often dominate or conceal the emergence of these dynamics, especially for soft active matter systems where typical interactions are of the order of the thermal energy. In this review, we explore the ongoing and future efforts to study active matter in space, where low-gravity and microgravity conditions can lift some of these limitations. We envision that these studies will help unify our understanding of active matter systems and, more generally, of far-from-equilibrium physics both on Earth and in space. Furthermore, they will also provide guidance on how to use, process and manufacture active materials for space exploration and colonisation.

Stress anisotropy in confined populations of growing rods.

Journal of the Royal Society, Interface 19:196 (2022) 20220512

Authors:

Jonas Isensee, Lukas Hupe, Ramin Golestanian, Philip Bittihn

Abstract:

A central feature of living matter is its ability to grow and multiply. The mechanical activity associated with growth produces both macroscopic flows shaped by confinement, and striking self-organization phenomena, such as orientational order and alignment, which are particularly prominent in populations of rod-shaped bacteria due to their nematic properties. However, how active stresses, passive mechanical interactions and flow-induced effects interact to give rise to the observed global alignment patterns remains elusive. Here, we study in silico colonies of growing rod-shaped particles of different aspect ratios confined in channel-like geometries. A spatially resolved analysis of the stress tensor reveals a strong relationship between near-perfect alignment and an inversion of stress anisotropy for particles with large length-to-width ratios. We show that, in quantitative agreement with an asymptotic theory, strong alignment can lead to a decoupling of active and passive stresses parallel and perpendicular to the direction of growth, respectively. We demonstrate the robustness of these effects in a geometry that provides less restrictive confinement and introduces natural perturbations in alignment. Our results illustrate the complexity arising from the inherent coupling between nematic order and active stresses in growing active matter, which is modulated by geometric and configurational constraints due to confinement.

Signatures of fractional statistics in nonlinear pump-probe spectroscopy

ArXiv 2210.16249 (2022)

Authors:

Max McGinley, Michele Fava, SA Parameswaran

Catalysis-Induced Phase Separation and Autoregulation of Enzymatic Activity

Physical Review Letters 129:15 (2022)

Authors:

MW Cotton, R Golestanian, J Agudo-Canalejo

Abstract:

We present a thermodynamically consistent model describing the dynamics of a multicomponent mixture where one enzyme component catalyzes a reaction between other components. We find that the catalytic activity alone can induce phase separation for sufficiently active systems and large enzymes, without any equilibrium interactions between components. In the limit of fast reaction rates, binodal lines can be calculated using a mapping to an effective free energy. We also explain how this catalysis-induced phase separation can act to autoregulate the enzymatic activity, which points at the biological relevance of this phenomenon.