An essential event in developmental processes is the introduction of asymmetry into an otherwise undifferentiated cell population. Cell division in Caulobacter is asymmetric; the progeny cells are structurally different and follow different sequences of development, thus providing a useful model system for the study of differentiation. Because the progeny cells are different from one another, there must be a segregation of morphogenetic and informational components at some time in the cell cycle. We have examined the pattern of specific protein segregation between Caulobacter stalked and swarmer daughter cells, with the rationale that such a progeny analysis would identify both structurally and developmentally important proteins. To complement the study, we have also examined the pattern of protein synthesis during synchronous growth and in various cellular fractions. We show here, for the first time, that the association of proteins with a specific cell type may result not only from their periodicity of synthesis, but also from their pattern of distribution at the time of cell division. Several membrane-associated and soluble proteins are segregated asymmetrically between progeny stalked and swarmer cells. The data further show that a subclass of soluble proteins becomes associated with the membrane of the progeny stalked cells. Therefore, although the principal differentiated cell types possess different synthetic capabilities and characteristic proteins, the asymmetry between progeny stalked and swarmer cells is generated primarily by the preferential association of specific soluble proteins with the membrane of only one daughter cell. The majority of the proteins which exhibit this segregation behavior are synthesized during the entire cell cycle and exhibit relatively long, functional messenger RNA half-lives.

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