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Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2012 Feb;22(1):72-9. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Dec 6.

Bacterial plasmid partition machinery: a minimalist approach to survival.

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Department of Biochemistry, Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, NC 27710, USA.


The accurate segregation or partition of replicated DNA is essential for ensuring stable genome transmission. Partition of bacterial plasmids requires only three elements: a centromere-like DNA site and two proteins, a partition NTPase, and a centromere-binding protein (CBP). Because of this simplicity, partition systems have served as tractable model systems to study the fundamental molecular mechanisms required for DNA segregation at an atomic level. In the last few years, great progress has been made in this endeavor. Surprisingly, these studies have revealed that although the basic partition components are functionally conserved between three types of plasmid partition systems, these systems employ distinct mechanisms of DNA segregation. This review summarizes the molecular insights into plasmid segregation that have been achieved through these recent structural studies.

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