The widely conserved ParABS system plays a major role in bacterial chromosome segregation. How the components of this system work together to generate translocation force and directional motion remains uncertain. Here, we combine biochemical approaches, quantitative imaging and mathematical modeling to examine the mechanism by which ParA drives the translocation of the ParB/parS partition complex in Caulobacter crescentus. Our experiments, together with simulations grounded on experimentally-determined biochemical and cellular parameters, suggest a novel 'DNA-relay' mechanism in which the chromosome plays a mechanical function. In this model, DNA-bound ParA-ATP dimers serve as transient tethers that harness the elastic dynamics of the chromosome to relay the partition complex from one DNA region to another across a ParA-ATP dimer gradient. Since ParA-like proteins are implicated in the partitioning of various cytoplasmic cargos, the conservation of their DNA-binding activity suggests that the DNA-relay mechanism may be a general form of intracellular transport in bacteria.
- Mohan Balasubramanian, University of Warwick, United Kingdom
© 2014, Lim et al.
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