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Genes Cells. 2000 Aug;5(8):613-26.

Two types of localization of the DNA-binding proteins within the Escherichia coli nucleoid.

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Department of Molecular Genetics, National Institute of Genetics, Mishima, Shizuoka 411-8540, Japan.



The genome DNA of Escherichia coli is folded into the nucleosome-like structure, often called a nucleoid, by the binding of several DNA-binding proteins. We previously determined the specificity and affinity of DNA-binding for 12 species of the E. coli DNA-binding protein, and their intracellular concentrations at various growth phases. The intracellular localization of these proteins in E. coli could be predicted from these data, but no attempt has been made thus far to directly observe the intracellular distribution of the DNA-binding proteins.


The intracellular localization in Escherichia coli of 10 species of the nucleoid-associated protein, three components of the transcripton apparatus, and three components of the translation machinery was investigated by indirect immuno-fluorescence microscopy. The DNA-binding proteins could be classified into two groups. The group-I proteins, including the major nucleoid-structural proteins, H-NS, HU, IHF, StpA and Dps, are distributed uniformly within the entire nucleoid. In contrast, the group-II proteins, which are presumed to possess regulatory activities of DNA functions accumulate at specific loci within the nucleoid, forming 2 (SeqA), 3-4 (CbpA and CbpB) and 6-10 (Fis and IciA) immuno-stained dots. Each immuno-stained dot may represent either the association of a hundred to one thousand molecules of each DNA-binding protein at a specific locus of the genome DNA or the assembly of protein-associated DNA segments from different domains of the folded genome. Both the RNA polymerase core enzyme and the sigma70 subunit are mainly associated with the nucleoid, but the anti-sigma70 factor (Rsd) appears to be accumulated at the boundary between the nucleoid and the cytosol in the stationary-phase cells. Here we show that the majority of Hfq is present in cytoplasm together with ribosomal proteins L7/L12 and RMF.


The DNA-binding proteins of E. coli could be classified into two groups. One group proteins was distributed uniformly within the nucleoid, but the other group of proteins showed an irregular distribution, forming immuno-stained spots or clumps.

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