Recent in vivo experiments suggest that in the bacterium, Bacillus subtilis, the cue for the localization of the small sporulation protein, SpoVM, an essential factor in spore coat formation, is curvature of the bacterial plasma membrane. In vitro measurements of SpoVM adsorption to vesicles of varying sizes also find high sensitivity of adsorption to vesicle radius. This curvature-dependent adsorption is puzzling given the orders of magnitude difference in length scale between an individual protein and the radius of curvature of the cell or vesicle, suggesting protein clustering on the membrane. Here we develop a minimal model to study the relationship between curvature-dependent membrane adsorption and clustering of SpoVM. Based on our analysis, we hypothesize that the radius dependence of SpoVM adsorption observed in vitro is governed primarily by membrane tension, while for in-vivo localization of SpoVM, we propose a highly sensitive mechanism for curvature sensing based on the formation of macroscopic protein clusters on the membrane.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)