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Mol Microbiol. 1998 Feb;27(4):777-86.

Use of asymmetric cell division and spoIIIE mutants to probe chromosome orientation and organization in Bacillus subtilis.

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Sir William Dunn School of Pathology, University of Oxford, UK.


Soon after the onset of sporulation in Bacillus subtilis, asymmetric cell division occurs to generate the differentiating prespore and mother cell types. Formation of the septum close to the cell pole initially bisects the nucleoid destined for the prespore, trapping only about one-third of the DNA in the small compartment. The remaining part of the chromosome is then transported through the septum. spoIIIE mutant cells fail to transfer the DNA and arrest with only partially segregated prespore chromosomes. Previous work has shown that the orientation of the chromosome at the time of septation is not random. Here, we use both physical and genetic methods to characterize the trapped DNA. The results show that the chromosome has a very specific orientation at the time of septation, consistent with the action of a centromere-like sequence near oriC. They also demonstrate that the chromosome is folded, or otherwise organized, in a highly ordered manner.

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