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J Bacteriol. 2004 Jun;186(12):3951-9.

Effects of perturbing nucleoid structure on nucleoid occlusion-mediated toporegulation of FtsZ ring assembly.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Texas Medical School, 6431 Fannin, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


In Escherichia coli, assembly of the FtsZ ring (Z ring) at the cell division site is negatively regulated by the nucleoid in a phenomenon called nucleoid occlusion (NO). Previous studies have indicated that chromosome packing plays a role in NO, as mukB mutants grown in rich medium often exhibit FtsZ rings on top of diffuse, unsegregated nucleoids. To address the potential role of overall nucleoid structure on NO, we investigated the effects of disrupting chromosome structure on Z-ring positioning. We found that NO was mostly normal in cells with inactivated DNA gyrase or in mukB-null mutants lacking topA, although some suppression of NO was evident in the latter case. Previous reports suggesting that transcription, translation, and membrane insertion of proteins ("transertion") influence nucleoid structure prompted us to investigate whether disruption of these activities had effects on NO. Blocking transcription caused nucleoids to become diffuse, and FtsZ relocalized to multiple bands on top of these nucleoids, biased towards midcell. This suggested that these diffuse nucleoids were defective in NO. Blocking translation with chloramphenicol caused characteristic nucleoid compaction, but FtsZ rarely assembled on top of these centrally positioned nucleoids. This suggested that NO remained active upon translation inhibition. Blocking protein secretion by thermoinduction of a secA(Ts) strain caused a chromosome segregation defect similar to that in parC mutants, and NO was active. Although indirect effects are certainly possible with these experiments, the above data suggest that optimum NO activity may require specific organization and structure of the nucleoid.

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