Conformational equilibrium of MinE regulates the allowable concentration ranges of a protein wave for cell division†
The Min system for determining the cell division position at the center in bacteria has a unique character that uses a protein wave (Min wave) that emerges from its components (MinD and MinE). The Min wave emerges under the coupling of chemical reactions and molecular diffusions of MinDE and appears when the concentrations of MinD and MinE are similar. However, the nanoscale mechanism to determine their concentration ranges has remained elusive. In this study, by using artificial cells as a mimic of cells, we showed that the dominant MinE conformations determined the allowable concentration ranges for the emergence of the Min wave. Furthermore, the deletion of the membrane-binding region of MinE indicated that the region was essential for limiting the concentration ranges to be narrower. These findings illustrate a parameter tuning mechanism underlying complex molecular systems at the nanoscale for spatiotemporal regulation in living cells and show a possibility that the regulation of the equilibrium among molecular conformations can work as a switch for cell division.