Segregation of chromosome arms in growing and non-growing Escherichia coli cells

Conrad L. Woldringh, Flemming G. Hansen, Norbert O. E. Vischer, Tove Atlung

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    In slow-growing Escherichia coli cells the chromosome is organized with its left (L) and right (R) arms lying separated in opposite halves of the nucleoid and with the origin (0) in-between, giving the pattern L-O-R. During replication one of the arms has to pass the other to obtain the same organization in the daughter cells: L-O-R L-O-R. To determine the movement of arms during segregation six strains were constructed carrying three colored loci: the left and right arms were labeled with red and cyan fluorescent-proteins, respectively, on loci symmetrically positioned at different distances from the central origin, which was labeled with green-fluorescent protein. In non-replicating cells with the predominant spot pattern L-O-R, initiation of replication first resulted in a L-O-O-R pattern, soon changing to O-L-R-O. After replication of the arms the predominant spot patterns were, L-O-R L-O-R, O-R-L R-O-L or O-L-R L-O-R indicating that one or both arms passed an origin and the other arm. To study the driving force for these movements cell growth was inhibited with rifampicin allowing run-off DNA synthesis. Similar spot patterns were obtained in growing and non-growing cells, indicating that the movement of arms is not a growth-sustained process, but may result from DNA synthesis itself. The distances between loci on different arms (LR-distances) and between duplicated loci (LL- or RR-distances) as a function of their distance from the origin, indicate that in slow-growing cells DNA is organized according to the so-called sausage model and not according to the doughnut model.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number448
    JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
    Number of pages12
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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    This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.


    • Escherichia coli
    • Nucleoid
    • DNA segregation
    • Chromosome arms (replichores)
    • Ordering pattern
    • Rifampicin-treatment
    • Run-off DNA synthesis


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