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Res Microbiol. 1990 Jan;141(1):30-9.

Involvement of cell shape in the replication and segregation of chromosomes in Escherichia coli.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne 32901.


Chromosome replication appears to initiate in E. coli when the dnaA boxes in oriC become filled with DnaA protein, which could simultaneously mediate both the unwinding of the origin for the start of polymerization and the attachment of oriC to the cell envelope (Bramhill and Kornberg, 1988; Løbner-Olesen et al., 1989; Pierucci et al., 1989). The attachment takes place somewhere within the cell half in which the oriC resides. The boundaries of this attachment/replication zone, which cannot include the polar cap, could be demarcated by the polar and centrally located periseptal annuli (Rothfield, this Forum). Since attachment and polymerization are two aspects of the same process, the attachment probably takes place via the polymerizing strand. Once polymerization begins, the oriC with the older template strand moves away from the younger one, by mechanisms unknown, to eventually take up residence in the equivalent domain of the complementary sister cell. Thus, the template strand that stays within its domain corresponds to the strand that was attached during the previous round of replication, and the template that moves away is the one that was not attached. The driving force for this translocation is not specified by our model, but a number of plausible alternatives have been proposed by others (reviewed in Leonard and Helmstetter, 1990). Throughout the ensuing replication and cell division, the chromosomes are located (or can move freely) within the attachment/replication zone of the developing daughter cell (lateral cylinder and septum). At some time during the course of this process, but before the next initiation event, the replication origins must be released from the attachment sites so that the entire process can be repeated. Thus, the probabilistic non-random chromosome segregation is due to the asymmetry of the attachment/replication zone in the cell, whereas the partitioning system itself must possess a mechanism to discriminate between template strands of different ages. This apparent mechanistic relationship between chromosome replication, chromosome partitioning and the maintenance of cell shape may provide an interesting framework for future experiments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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