Asymmetric Damage Segregation Constitutes an Emergent Population-Level Stress Response

Søren Vedel, Harry Nunns, Andrej Košmrlj, Szabolcs Semsey, Ala Trusina

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Asymmetric damage segregation (ADS) is a mechanism for increasing population fitness through non-random, asymmetric partitioning of damaged macromolecules at cell division. ADS has been reported across multiple organisms, though the measured effects on fitness of individuals are often small. Here, we introduce a cell-lineage-based framework that quantifies the population-wide effects of ADS and then verify our results experimentally in E. coli under heat and antibiotic stress. Using an experimentally validated mathematical model, we find that the beneficial effect of ADS increases with stress. In effect, low-damage subpopulations divide faster and amplify within the population acting like a positive feedback loop whose strength scales with stress. Analysis of protein aggregates shows that the degree of asymmetric inheritance is damage dependent in single cells. Together our results indicate that, despite small effects in single cell, ADS exerts a strong beneficial effect on the population level and arises from the redistribution of damage within a population, through both single-cell and population-level feedback.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)187-198
Number of pages12
JournalCell Systems
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 24 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Cell Biology
  • Histology


Dive into the research topics of 'Asymmetric Damage Segregation Constitutes an Emergent Population-Level Stress Response'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this