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Trends Microbiol. 2008 May;16(5):238-45. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2008.02.003. Epub 2008 Apr 9.

Escherichia coli and its chromosome.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, South Parks Road, Oxford, UK.


The Escherichia coli chromosome is a circular DNA molecule that is approximately 1000 times compacted in the living cell, where it occupies approximately 15% of the cellular volume. The genome is organized in a way that facilitates chromosome maintenance and processing. Despite huge efforts, until recently little has been known about how the chromosome is organized within cells, where replication takes place, and how DNA is segregated before cell division. New techniques for labeling genetic loci and molecular machines are allowing the simultaneous tracking of genetic loci and such machines in living cells over time. These studies reveal remarkable organization, yet a highly dynamic flux of genetic loci and macromolecules. It seems likely that the cellular positioning of chromosomal loci is the outcome of the formation of two chromosome arms (replichores) by replication, followed by sequential chromosome segregation, rather than from the presence of cellular positioning markers.

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