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Nucleoid occlusion protein Noc recruits DNA to the bacterial cell membrane

Lookup NU author(s): Dr David Adams, Dr Ling Juan Wu, Professor Jeff ErringtonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


To proliferate efficiently, cells must co-ordinate division with chromosome segregation. In Bacillus subtilis, the nucleoid occlusion protein Noc binds to specific DNA sequences (NBSs) scattered around the chromosome and helps to protect genomic integrity by coupling the initiation of division to the progression of chromosome replication and segregation. However, how it inhibits division has remained unclear. Here, we demonstrate that Noc associates with the cell membrane via an N-terminal amphipathic helix, which is necessary for function. Importantly, the membrane-binding affinity of this helix is weak and requires the assembly of nucleoprotein complexes, thus establishing a mechanism for DNA-dependent activation of Noc. Furthermore, division inhibition by Noc requires recruitment of NBS DNA to the cell membrane and is dependent on its ability to bind DNA and membrane simultaneously. Indeed, Noc production in a heterologous system is sufficient for recruitment of chromosomal DNA to the membrane. Our results suggest a simple model in which the formation of large membrane-associated nucleoprotein complexes physically occludes assembly of the division machinery.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Adams DW, Wu LJ, Errington J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: EMBO Journal

Year: 2015

Volume: 34

Issue: 4

Pages: 491-501

Print publication date: 12/02/2015

Online publication date: 07/01/2015

Acceptance date: 05/12/2014

Date deposited: 02/04/2015

ISSN (print): 0261-4189

ISSN (electronic): 1460-2075

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.15252/embj.201490177


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Funder referenceFunder name
WT098374AIAWellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award
098374/Z/12/ZWellcome Trust