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Localized Proteolysis for the Construction of Intracellular Asymmetry in Escherichia coli

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journal contribution
posted on 10.08.2021, 14:04 by Jui-Chung Hong, Hao-Chun Fan, Po-Jiun Yang, Da-Wei Lin, Hsuan-Chen Wu, Hsiao-Chun Huang
Protein-level regulations have gained importance in building synthetic circuits, as they offer a potential advantage in the speed of operation compared to gene regulation circuits. In nature, localized protein degradation is prevalent in polarizing cellular signaling. We, therefore, set out to systematically investigate whether localized proteolysis can be employed to construct intracellular asymmetry in Escherichia coli. We demonstrate that, by inserting a cognate cleavage site between the reporter and C-terminal degron, the unstable reporter can be stabilized in the presence of the tobacco etch virus protease. Furthermore, the split protease can be functionally reconstituted by the PopZ-based polarity system to exert localized proteolysis. Selective stabilization of the unstable reporter at the PopZ pole can lead to intracellular asymmetry in E. coli. Our study provides complementary evidence to support that localized proteolysis may be a strategy for polarization in developmental cell biology. Circuits designed in this study may also help to expand the synthetic biology repository for the engineering of synthetic morphogenesis, particularly for processes that require rapid control of local protein abundance.