Signal Transduction and Motor Control in Bacteria: Microscopic Models and Macroscopic Behavior

Hans G. Othmer

Bacterial chemotaxis is widely-studied because of its accessibility and because it incorporates processes that are important in a number of sensory systems: signal transduction, excitation, adaptation, and a change in behavior, all in response to stimuli. Quantitative data on the change in behavior is available for this system, and the major biochemical steps in the signal transduction/processing pathway have been identified. We will discuss a mathematical model that can reproduce many of the major features of the intracellular response, including the change in the level of chemotactic proteins to step and ramp stimuli such as those used in experimental protocols. We will also describe a mechanism for the interaction of the chemotactic proteins with the motor switch, and will discuss how the microscopic model can be incorporated in macroscopic equations that describe the behavior of bacterial populations.

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