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Certain types of cellular differentiation are probabilistic and transient. In such systems individual cells can switch to an alternative state and, after some time, switch back again. In Bacillus subtilis, competence is an example of such a transiently differentiated state associated with the capability for DNA uptake from the environment. Individual genes(More)
A fundamental goal in cellular signaling is to understand allosteric communication, the process by which signals originating at one site in a protein propagate reliably to affect distant functional sites. The general principles of protein structure that underlie this process remain unknown. Here, we describe a sequence-based statistical method for(More)
The dynamic process of differentiation depends on the architecture, quantitative parameters, and noise of underlying genetic circuits. However, it remains unclear how these elements combine to control cellular behavior. We analyzed the probabilistic and transient differentiation of Bacillus subtilis cells into the state of competence. A few key parameters(More)
Gene regulatory circuits with different architectures (patterns of regulatory interactions) can generate similar dynamics. This raises the question of why a particular circuit architecture is selected to implement a given cellular process. To investigate this problem, we compared the Bacillus subtilis circuit that regulates differentiation into the(More)
From microbial biofilm communities to multicellular organisms, 3D macroscopic structures develop through poorly understood interplay between cellular processes and mechanical forces. Investigating wrinkled biofilms of Bacillus subtilis, we discovered a pattern of localized cell death that spatially focuses mechanical forces, and thereby initiates wrinkle(More)
Bacteria residing within biofilm communities can coordinate their behavior through cell-to-cell signaling. However, it remains unclear if these signals can also influence the behavior of distant cells that are not part of the community. Using a microfluidic approach, we find that potassium ion channel-mediated electrical signaling generated by a Bacillus(More)
Multipotent differentiation, where cells adopt one of several possible fates, occurs in diverse systems ranging from bacteria to mammals. This decision-making process is driven by multiple differentiation programs that operate simultaneously in the cell. How these programs interact to govern cell fate choice is poorly understood. To investigate this issue,(More)
Cells that reside within a community can cooperate and also compete with each other for resources. It remains unclear how these opposing interactions are resolved at the population level. Here we investigate such an internal conflict within a microbial (Bacillus subtilis) biofilm community: cells in the biofilm periphery not only protect interior cells from(More)
The study of bacterial ion channels has provided fundamental insights into the structural basis of neuronal signalling; however, the native role of ion channels in bacteria has remained elusive. Here we show that ion channels conduct long-range electrical signals within bacterial biofilm communities through spatially propagating waves of potassium. These(More)
Stochastic fluctuations affect the dynamics of biological systems. Typically, such noise causes perturbations that can permit genetic circuits to escape stable states, triggering, for example, phenotypic switching. In contrast, studies have shown that noise can surprisingly also generate new states, which exist solely in the presence of fluctuations. In(More)