Current Opinion in Microbiology 18 (-) 54-60 [2014-04-00; online 2014-04-00]
Whether to divide or not is an important decision that nearly all cells have to make, especially bacteria that are exposed to drastic environmental changes. Under adverse conditions proliferation and growth could compromise cellular integrity and hence must be downregulated. To this end, bacteria have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to transduce environmental information into the cell cycle engine. Recent studies in Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis and Caulobacter crescentus indicate that these mechanisms often involve small molecule-based signaling, regulated proteolysis, as well as protein-protein interactions. Most of them delay replication initiation or septum formation by targeting the key regulators DnaA or FtsZ, respectively. Remarkably, while the targets are conserved, the precise mechanisms show a considerable degree of diversity among different species.