Out-of-equilibrium control of the internal organization of bacteria
Despite the absence of a membrane-enclosed nucleus, the bacterial DNA is condensed into a compact body---the nucleoid. We develop models that consider steric interactions among the components of the Escherichia coli transcriptional-translational machinery and out-of-equilibrium effects of mRNA transcription, translation, and degradation, in order to explain the observed features of the nucleoid.
We show that steric effects are sufficient to drive equilibrium phase separation of the DNA, explaining the formation and size of the nucleoid. In addition, we show that the observed positioning of the nucleoid is due to the out-of-equilibrium process of mRNA synthesis and degradation.