Design Principles of Protein Patterns

Erwin Frey
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München
Protein pattern formation is essential for the spatial organisation of many intracellular processes like cell division, flagellum positioning, and chemotaxis. A prominent example of intracellular patterns are the oscillatory pole-to-pole oscillations of Min proteins in E. coli whose biological function is to ensure precise cell division. Cell polarisation, a prerequisite for processes such as stem cell differentiation and cell polarity in yeast, is also mediated by a diffusion–reaction process. More generally, these functional modules of cells serve as model systems for self-organisation, one of the core principles of life. Under which conditions spatio-temporal patterns emerge, and how these patterns are regulated by biochemical and geometrical factors are major aspects of current research. In this talk we discuss recent theoretical and experimental advances in the field of intracellular pattern formation, focusing on general design principles and fundamental physical mechanisms.