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EMBO J. 2013 May 2;32(9):1238-49. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2013.34. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

ParA-mediated plasmid partition driven by protein pattern self-organization.

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Laboratory of Molecular Biology, National Institute of Diabetes, and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-0540, USA.


DNA segregation ensures the stable inheritance of genetic material prior to cell division. Many bacterial chromosomes and low-copy plasmids, such as the plasmids P1 and F, employ a three-component system to partition replicated genomes: a partition site on the DNA target, typically called parS, a partition site binding protein, typically called ParB, and a Walker-type ATPase, typically called ParA, which also binds non-specific DNA. In vivo, the ParA family of ATPases forms dynamic patterns over the nucleoid, but how ATP-driven patterning is involved in partition is unknown. We reconstituted and visualized ParA-mediated plasmid partition inside a DNA-carpeted flowcell, which acts as an artificial nucleoid. ParA and ParB transiently bridged plasmid to the DNA carpet. ParB-stimulated ATP hydrolysis by ParA resulted in ParA disassembly from the bridging complex and from the surrounding DNA carpet, which led to plasmid detachment. Our results support a diffusion-ratchet model, where ParB on the plasmid chases and redistributes the ParA gradient on the nucleoid, which in turn mobilizes the plasmid.

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