When nutrients are scarce and ATP levels are low, a condensate forms inside Caulobacter crescentus, concentrating DivJ, an enzyme critical for cell division. At sufficiently high local concentrations, DivJ can better utilize the molecules of ATP available to it, powering cell division. When researchers prevented the formation of condensates under ATP depletion, the concentration of DivJ was too low to efficiently use the dwindling fuel reserves. As a result, bacterial cells could grow but not divide, producing abnormally elongated shapes.
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This article was featured in July 2022, Issue 2 of the digest