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    In bacteria, most low-copy-number plasmid and chromosomally encoded partition systems belong to the tripartite ParABS partition machinery. Despite the importance in genetic inheritance, the mechanisms of ParABS-mediated genome partition are not well understood. Combining theory and experiment, we provided evidence that the ParABS system-DNA partitioning in vivo via the ParA-gradient-based Brownian ratcheting-operates near a transition point in parameter space (i.e., a critical point), across which the system displays qualitatively different motile behaviors. This near-critical-point operation adapts the segregation distance of replicated plasmids to the half length of the elongating nucleoid, ensuring both cell halves to inherit one copy of the plasmids. Further, we demonstrated that the plasmid localizes the cytoplasmic ParA to buffer the partition fidelity against the large cell-to-cell fluctuations in ParA level. The spatial control over the near-critical-point operation not only ensures both sensitive adaptation and robust execution of partitioning but also sheds light on the fundamental question in cell biology: how do cells faithfully measure cellular-scale distance by only using molecular-scale interactions? Copyright © 2021 Biophysical Society. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


    Longhua Hu, Jérôme Rech, Jean-Yves Bouet, Jian Liu. Spatial control over near-critical-point operation ensures fidelity of ParABS-mediated DNA partition. Biophysical journal. 2021 Sep 21;120(18):3911-3924

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    PMID: 34418367

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