Bacterial chromosomes are organized in replichores of opposite sequence polarity. This conserved feature suggests a role in chromosome dynamics. Indeed, sequence polarity controls resolution of chromosome dimers in Escherichia coli. Chromosome dimers form by homologous recombination between sister chromosomes. They are resolved by the combined action of two tyrosine recombinases, XerC and XerD, acting at a specific chromosomal site, dif, and a DNA translocase, FtsK, which is anchored at the division septum and sorts chromosomal DNA to daughter cells. Evidences suggest that DNA motifs oriented from the replication origin towards dif provide FtsK with the necessary information to faithfully distribute chromosomal DNA to either side of the septum, thereby bringing the dif sites together at the end of this process. However, the nature of the DNA motifs acting as FtsK orienting polar sequences (KOPS) was unknown. Using genetics, bioinformatics and biochemistry, we have identified a family of DNA motifs in the E. coli chromosome with KOPS activity.
- chromosome segregation
- FtsK translocase