Escherichia coli XerC recombinase is required for chromosomal segregation at cell division

G Blakely, S Colloms, G May, M Burke, D Sherratt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

XerC is a site-specific recombinase of the bacteriophage lambda integrase family that is encoded by xerC at 3700 kbp on the genetic map of Escherichia coli. The protein was originally identified through its role in converting multimers of plasmid ColE1 to monomers; only monomers are stably inherited. Here we demonstrate that XerC also has a role in the segregation of replicated chromosomes at cell division. xerC mutants form filaments with aberrant nucleotides that appear unable to partition correctly. A DNA segment (dif) from the replication terminus region of the E. coli chromosome binds XerC and acts as a substrate for XerC-mediated site-specific recombination when inserted into multicopy plasmids. This dif segment contains a region of 28 bp with sequence similarity to the crossover region of ColE1 cer. The cell division phenotype of xerC mutants is suppressed in strains deficient in homologous recombination, suggesting that the role of XerC/dif in chromosomal metabolism is to convert any chromosomal multimers (arising through homologous recombination) to monomers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789-98
Number of pages10
JournalThe New biologist
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1991


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