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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2007 Feb;17(1):103-9. Epub 2006 Dec 11.

Structural biology of plasmid segregation proteins.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Texas, MD Anderson Cancer Center, Unit 1000, Houston, TX 77030, USA.


DNA segregation, or partition, ensures stable genome transmission during cell division. In prokaryotes, partition is best understood for plasmids, which serve as tractable model systems to decipher the molecular underpinnings of this process. Plasmid partition is mediated by par systems, composed of three essential elements: a centromere-like site and the proteins ParA and ParB. In the first step, ParB binds the centromere to form a large segrosome. Subsequently, ParA, an ATPase, binds the segrosome and mediates plasmid separation. Recently determined ParB-centromere structures have revealed key insights into segrosome assembly, whereas ParA structures have shed light on the mechanism of plasmid separation. These structures represent important steps in elucidating the molecular details of plasmid segregation.

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