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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Sep 12, 1995; 92(19): 8630–8634.

Postseptational chromosome partitioning in bacteria.


Mutations in the spoIIIE gene prevent proper partitioning of one chromosome into the developing prespore during sporulation but have no overt effect on partitioning in vegetatively dividing cells. However, the expression of spoIIIE in vegetative cells and the occurrence of genes closely related to spoIIIE in a range of nonsporulating eubacteria suggested a more general function for the protein. Here we show that SpoIIIE protein is needed for optimal chromosome partitioning in vegetative cells of Bacillus subtilis when the normal tight coordination between septation and nucleoid partitioning is perturbed or when septum positioning is altered. A functional SpoIIIE protein allows cells to recover from a state in which their chromosome has been trapped by a closing septum. By analogy to its function during sporulation, we suggest that SpoIIIE facilitates partitioning by actively translocating the chromosome out of the septum. In addition to enhancing the fidelity of nucleoid partitioning, SpoIIIE also seems to be required for maximal resistance to antibiotics that interfere with DNA metabolism. The results have important implications for our understanding of the functions of genes involved in the primary partitioning machinery in bacteria and of how septum placement is controlled.

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Selected References

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