Mechanisms of Spatial Organisation

Dr. Seán Murray

Research Area

Spatial organisation is critical for all life. Many cellular processes such as chromosome segregation, cell division and motility require the timely positioning of proteins or chromosomal loci to specific locations within the cell and this is just as true for bacteria as it is for eukaryotes. Such spatial organisation is often due to the presence of existing cellular landmarks or spatial cues but there are many examples in which proteins or DNA appear to be actively and dynamically positioned to specific locations. This occurs in spite of the homogenising effect of diffusion. 

We use bacteria as tractable model systems in which to uncover the principles and mechanisms underlying such organisation. To this end, we use mathematical modelling and stochastic simulations combined with live-cell experiments and genetics in a multi-disciplinary and systems approach. The fundamental principles we uncover will help our understanding of self-organisation across all living systems.

Selected Publications

Robin Köhler, Eugen Kaganovitch and Seán M. Murray (2022)
High-throughput imaging and quantitative analysis uncovers the nature of plasmid positioning by ParABS, eLife 11:e78743,

Lara Connolley, Joanna Szczepaniak, Colin Kleanthous, Seán M. Murray (2021)
The quantitative basis for the redistribution of immobile bacterial lipoproteins to division septa. PLoS Computational Biology 17(12): e1009756.

Srikanth Subramanian, Seán M. Murray† (2021)
Pattern selection in reaction diffusion systems. Phys. Rev. E 103, 012215, [arXiv:2005.07940]

Andreas Hofmann*, Jarno Mäkelä*, David Sherratt, Dieter Heermann, Seán M. Murray (2019).
Self-organised segregation of bacterial chromosomal origins, eLife 8:e46564,

Seán M. Murray, Martin Howard (2019).
Centre-Finding in E. coli and the Role of Mathematical Modelling: Past, Present and Future, Journal of Molecular Biology,, [arXiv: 1901.06139]

Mathilde Guzzo*, Seán M. Murray*, Eugenie Martineau*, Sébastien Lhospice*, Grégory Baronian, Laetitia My, Yong Zhang, Leon Espinosa, Renaud Vincentelli, Benjamin Bratton, Joshua Shaevitz, Virginie Molle, Martin Howard, Tâm Mignot (2018).
A gated relaxation oscillator mediated by FrzX controls morphogenetic movements in Myxococcus xanthus, Nature Microbiology, 3, 948-959

Seán M. Murray†, Victor Sourjik (2017).
Self-organisation and positioning of bacterial protein clusters, Nature Physics, 13, 1006-1013.

Seán M. Murray*, Gaël Panis*, Coralie Fumeaux, Patrick H. Viollier, Martin Howard (2013).
Computational and Genetic Reduction of a Cell Cycle to Its Simplest, Primordial Components, PLoS Biology 11 (12): e1001749.



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