Scientific article
Open access

Spontaneous cell polarization: Feedback control of Cdc42 GTPase breaks cellular symmetry

ContributorsMartin, Sophieorcid
Published inBioEssays, vol. 37, no. 11, p. 1193-1201
Publication date2015-09-04
First online date2015-09-04

Spontaneous polarization without spatial cues, or symmetry breaking, is a fundamental problem of spatial organization in biological systems. This question has been extensively studied using yeast models, which revealed the central role of the small GTPase switch Cdc42. Active Cdc42‐GTP forms a coherent patch at the cell cortex, thought to result from amplification of a small initial stochastic inhomogeneity through positive feedback mechanisms, which induces cell polarization. Here, I review and discuss the mechanisms of Cdc42 activity self‐amplification and dynamic turnover. A robust Cdc42 patch is formed through the combined effects of Cdc42 activity promoting its own activation and active Cdc42‐GTP displaying reduced membrane detachment and lateral diffusion compared to inactive Cdc42‐GDP. I argue the role of the actin cytoskeleton in symmetry breaking is not primarily to transport Cdc42 to the active site. Finally, negative feedback and competition mechanisms serve to control the number of polarization sites.

  • Cdc42 GTPase
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Schizosaccharomyces pombe
  • Actin cytoskeleton
  • Feedback
  • Spontaneous cell polarization
  • Symmetry breaking
Affiliation Not a UNIGE publication
Citation (ISO format)
MARTIN, Sophie. Spontaneous cell polarization: Feedback control of Cdc42 GTPase breaks cellular symmetry. In: BioEssays, 2015, vol. 37, n° 11, p. 1193–1201. doi: 10.1002/bies.201500077
Main files (1)
Article (Accepted version)
ISSN of the journal0265-9247

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