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Protein diffusion is a critical factor governing the functioning and organization of a cell's cytoplasm. In this study, we investigate the influence of (poly)ribosome distribution, cell aging, protein aggregation, and biomolecular condensate formation on protein mobility within the E. coli cytoplasm. We employ nanoscale single-molecule displacement mapping (SMdM) to determine the spatial distribution of the proteins and to meticulously track their diffusion. We show that the distribution of polysomes does not impact the lateral diffusion coefficients of proteins. However, the degradation of mRNA induced by rifampicin treatment leads to an increase in protein mobility within the cytoplasm. Additionally, we establish a significant correlation between cell aging, the asymmetric localization of protein aggregates and reduced diffusion coefficients at the cell poles. Notably, we observe variations in the hindrance of diffusion at the poles and the central nucleoid region for small and large proteins, and we reveal differences between the old and new pole of the cell. Collectively, our research highlights cellular processes and mechanisms responsible for spatially organizing the bacterial cytoplasm into domains with different structural features and apparent viscosity. © 2024. The Author(s).


Dmitrii Linnik, Ivan Maslov, Christiaan Michiel Punter, Bert Poolman. Dynamic structure of E. coli cytoplasm: supramolecular complexes and cell aging impact spatial distribution and mobility of proteins. Communications biology. 2024 Apr 27;7(1):508

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PMID: 38678067

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