Welcome to the eilslabs

The eilslabs form a joint research group between the division "Theoretical Bioinformatics" at the German Cancer Research Center (dkfz) and the department Bioinformatics and Functional Genomics at the Institute of Pharmacy and Molecular Biotechnology (IPMB) at Heidelberg University. The group is headed by Prof. Roland Eils.


MSB thumbnail image 400pxWhether bacteria segregate their chromosomes by passive or active mechanisms has been a long-standing debate. The recent publication by eilslabs group leader Barbara Di Ventura and colleagues suggests that, similarly to eukaryotes, most bacteria employ a mitotic apparatus, although specific partitioning mechanisms in individual species might differ. They find that, in Escherichia coli, the oscillating Min system mediates a novel Brownian ratchet-type mechanism of chromosome segregation, challenging the conventional view that the Min system only functions in mid-cell determination. The authors used numerical simulations to demonstrate that entropy alone is not sufficient to complete segregation of bacterial chromosomes. This can be, however, achieved by a polar gradient of DNA tethering sites on the membrane. By a combination of in vitro and in vivo assays, the cell-division regulator MinD is shown to bind DNA and to tether it to the membrane in an ATP-dependent manner. Their model proposes that non-sequence specific binding of MinD to DNA and at the same time to the membrane could create a dynamic gradient of DNA tethering sites on the membrane that progressively moves from mid-cell to the pole in each round of oscillation. Repeated binding and unbinding of chromosomal segments to these tethering sites eventually can mediate segregation of sister chromosomes by biasing their random movement toward the poles in a Brownian ratchet-like manner. Therefore, the bacterial Min system coordinates cell division and chromosome segregation.