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Cohesion of sister chromosome termini during the early stages of sporulation in Bacillus subtilis

Lookup NU author(s): Clare Willis, Professor Jeff ErringtonORCiD, Dr Ling Juan Wu


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Copyright © 2020 Willis et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.During sporulation of Bacillus subtilis, the cell cycle is reorganized to generate separated prespore and mother cell compartments, each containing a single fully replicated chromosome. The process begins with reorganization of the nucleoid to form an elongated structure, the axial filament, in which the two chromosome origins are attached to opposite cell poles, with the remainder of the DNA stretched between these sites. When the cell then divides asymmetrically, the division septum closes around the chromosome destined for the smaller prespore, trapping the origin-proximal third of the chromosome in the prespore. A translocation pore is assembled through which a DNA transporter, SpoIIIE/FtsK, transfers the bulk of the chromosome to complete the segregation process. Although the mechanisms involved in attaching origin regions to the cell poles are quite well understood, little is known about other aspects of axial filament morphology. We have studied the behavior of the terminus region of the chromosome during sporulation using time-lapse imaging of wild-type and mutant cells. The results suggest that the elongated structure involves cohesion of the terminus regions of the sister chromosomes and that this cohesion is resolved when the termini reach the asymmetric septum or translocation pore. Possible mechanisms and roles of cohesion and resolution are discussed. IMPORTANCE Endospore formation in Firmicutes bacteria provides one of the most highly resistant life forms on earth. During the early stages of endospore formation, the cell cycle is reorganized so that exactly two fully replicated chromosomes are generated, before the cell divides asymmetrically to generate the prespore and mother cell compartments that are critical for the developmental process. Decades ago, it was discovered that just prior to asymmetrical division the two chromosomes enter an unusual elongated configuration called the axial filament. This paper provides new insights into the nature of the axial filament structure and suggests that cohesion of the normally separated sister chromosome termini plays an important role in axial filament formation.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Willis C, Errington J, Wu LJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Bacteriology

Year: 2020

Volume: 202

Issue: 20

Online publication date: 23/09/2020

Acceptance date: 31/07/2020

ISSN (print): 0021-9193

ISSN (electronic): 1098-5530

Publisher: American Society for Microbiology


DOI: 10.1128/JB.00296-20

PubMed id: 32778559


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