Segregation of the Escherichia coli chromosome terminus

Authors

  • Yongfang Li,

    1. Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory, National Cancer Institute, CCR, NCI-Frederick, Frederick, Maryland 21702–1201, USA.
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  • Brenda Youngren,

    1. Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory, National Cancer Institute, CCR, NCI-Frederick, Frederick, Maryland 21702–1201, USA.
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  • Kirill Sergueev,

    1. Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory, National Cancer Institute, CCR, NCI-Frederick, Frederick, Maryland 21702–1201, USA.
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  • Stuart Austin

    Corresponding author
    1. Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory, National Cancer Institute, CCR, NCI-Frederick, Frederick, Maryland 21702–1201, USA.
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Summary

We studied the segregation of the replication terminus of the Escherichia coli chromosome by time-lapse and still photomicroscopy. The replicated termini lie together at the cell centre. They rapidly segregate away from each other immediately before cell division. At fast growth rate, the copies move progressively and quickly toward the centres of the new-born cells. At slow growth rate, the termini usually remain near the inner cell pole and migrate to the cell centre in the middle of the cell cycle. A terminus domain of about 160kb, roughly centred on the dif recombination site, segregated as a unit at cell division. Sequences outside this domain segregated before division, giving two separate foci in predivision cells. Resolution of chromosome dimers via the terminus dif site requires the XerC recombinase and an activity of the FtsK protein that is thought to align the dif sequences at the cell centre. We found that anchoring of the termini at the cell centre and proper segregation at cell division occurred normally in the absence of recombination via the XerC recombinase. Anchoring and proper segregation were, however, frequently disrupted when the C-terminal domain of FtsK was truncated.

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