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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1999 Sep 14;96(19):10661-6.

The Caulobacter crescentus smc gene is required for cell cycle progression and chromosome segregation.

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  • 1Department of Developmental Biology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Beckman Center B300, Stanford, CA 94305-5329, USA.


The highly conserved SMC (Structural Maintenance of Chromosomes) proteins function in chromosome condensation, segregation, and other aspects of chromosome dynamics in both eukaryotes and prokaryotes. A null mutation in the Caulobacter crescentus smc gene is conditionally lethal and causes a cell cycle arrest at the predivisional cell stage. Chromosome segregation in wild-type and smc null mutant cells was examined by monitoring the intracellular localization of the replication origin and terminus by using fluorescence in situ hybridization. In wild-type cells, the origin is located at the flagellated pole of swarmer cells and, immediately after the initiation of DNA replication in stalked cells, one of the origins moves to the opposite pole, giving a bipolar localization of the origins. The terminus moves from the end of the swarmer cell opposite the origin to midcell. A subpopulation of the smc null mutant cells had mislocalized origins or termini, showing that the smc null mutation gives DNA segregation defects. Nucleoid morphology was also abnormal. Thus, we propose that the Caulobacter chromosomal origins have specific cellular addresses and that the SMC protein plays important roles in maintaining chromosome structure and in partitioning. The specific cell cycle arrest in the smc null mutant indicates the presence of a cell cycle checkpoint that senses perturbations in chromosome organization or segregation.

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