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Annu Rev Biochem. 2006;75:211-41.

Mechanisms for chromosome and plasmid segregation.

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  • 1Section of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas 78712-0612, USA.


The fundamental problems in duplicating and transmitting genetic information posed by the geometric and topological features of DNA, combined with its large size, are qualitatively similar for prokaryotic and eukaryotic chromosomes. The evolutionary solutions to these problems reveal common themes. However, depending on differences in their organization, ploidy, and copy number, chromosomes and plasmids display distinct segregation strategies as well. In bacteria, chromosome duplication, likely mediated by a stationary replication factory, is accompanied by rapid, directed migration of the daughter duplexes with assistance from DNA-compacting and perhaps translocating proteins. The segregation of unit-copy or low-copy bacterial plasmids is also regulated spatially and temporally by their respective partitioning systems. Eukaryotic chromosomes utilize variations of a basic pairing and unpairing mechanism for faithful segregation during mitosis and meiosis. Rather surprisingly, the yeast plasmid 2-micron circle also resorts to a similar scheme for equal partitioning during mitosis.

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