The right place at the right time: uncovering the mechanisms that lead to spatiotemporal structure and organization in the bacterial cell.

Monday, February 2, 2015 -
4:00pm to 5:00pm
Nathan Kuwada
Speaker's Institution: 
Department of Physics and Department of Bioengineering University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Spatial control is essential to the biological function of the cell. From gene expression to cell division, the cell must precisely localize sub-cellular machinery to well-defined locations at specific times during the cell cycle using only a molecular toolkit. Even the tiny bacterial cell displays a high level of spatiotemporal control without the use of membrane-bound organelles or cytoskeletal motor proteins. Despite its essential role in the lifetime of the cell, many of the biophysical details of how bacteria exploit molecular-scale interactions to mediate cellular-scale structure remain unknown. Our lab combines high-throughput live-cell imaging with custom image analysis software to characterize the general mechanisms that lead to spatial control in bacteria. In this talk I will discuss results of two recent measurements: (1) a quantitative characterization of the spatially-dependent dynamics of protein complexes in the cytoplasm, and (2) a global picture of the cell-cycle-dependent localization behavior of nearly every protein in a bacterial cell. These imaging-based approaches have provided novel results that suggest many phenomena once thought unique to complex multicellular organisms have primitive precursors in bacterial cells with even the simplest life cycles.




Dr. Kuwada received his B.S. in Physics from the University of Washington in 2005, and his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Oregon in 2010 under the advisement of Prof. Heiner Linke. He is currently a Post-Doctoral Research Fellow in the Wiggins Lab at the University of Washington in Seattle.