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Tracking of chromosome dynamics in live Streptococcus pneumoniae reveals that transcription promotes chromosome segregation.
Chromosome segregation is an essential part of the bacterial cell cycle but is poorly characterized in oval-shaped streptococci. Using time-lapse fluorescence microscopy and total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, we have tracked the dynamics of chromosome segregation in live cells of the human pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae. Our observations show that the chromosome segregation process last for two-thirds of the total cell cycle; the origin region segregates rapidly in the early stages of the cell cycle while nucleoid segregation finishes just before cell division. Previously we have demonstrated that the DNA-binding protein ParB and the condensin SMC promote efficient chromosome segregation, likely by an active mechanism. We now show that in the absence of SMC, cell division can occur over the unsegregated chromosomes. However, neither smc nor parB are essential in S. pneumoniae, suggesting the importance of additional mechanisms. Here we have identified the process of transcription as one of these mechanisms important for chromosome segregation in S. pneumoniae. Transcription inhibitors rifampicin and streptolydigin as well as mutants affected in transcription elongation cause chromosome segregation defects. Together, our results highlight the importance of passive (or indirect) processes such as transcription for chromosome segregation in oval-shaped bacteria.
Cell Cycle, Chromosome Segregation, Microscopy, Fluorescence, Streptococcus pneumoniae/cytology, Streptococcus pneumoniae/genetics, Time-Lapse Imaging, Transcription, Genetic
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