How cells determine the number of polarity sites.
The diversity of cell morphologies arises, in part, through regulation of cell polarity by Rho-family GTPases. A poorly understood but fundamental question concerns the regulatory mechanisms by which different cells generate different numbers of polarity sites. Mass-conserved activator-substrate (MCAS) models that describe polarity circuits develop multiple initial polarity sites, but then those sites engage in competition, leaving a single winner. Theoretical analyses predicted that competition would slow dramatically as GTPase concentrations at different polarity sites increase toward a 'saturation point', allowing polarity sites to coexist. Here, we test this prediction using budding yeast cells, and confirm that increasing the amount of key polarity proteins results in multiple polarity sites and simultaneous budding. Further, we elucidate a novel design principle whereby cells can switch from competition to equalization among polarity sites. These findings provide insight into how cells with diverse morphologies may determine the number of polarity sites.
Chiou, J-G; Moran, KD; Lew, DJ
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