Bacterial scaffold directs pole-specific centromere segregation

Jerod L. Ptacin, Andreas Gahlmann, Grant R. Bowman, Adam M. Perez, Alexander R.S. Von Diezmann, Michael R. Eckart, W. E. Moerner, Lucy Shapiro

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Bacteria use partitioning systems based on the ParA ATPase to actively mobilize and spatially organize molecular cargoes throughout the cytoplasm. The bacterium Caulobacter crescentus uses a ParA-based partitioning system to segregate newly replicated chromosomal centromeres to opposite cell poles. Here we demonstrate that the Caulobacter PopZ scaffold creates an organizing center at the cell pole that actively regulates polar centromere transport by the ParA partition system. As segregation proceeds, the ParB-bound centromere complex is moved by progressively disassembling ParA from a nucleoid-bound structure. Using superresolution microscopy, we show that released ParA is recruited directly to binding sites within a 3D ultrastructure composed of PopZ at the cell pole, whereas the ParB-centromere complex remains at the periphery of the PopZ structure. PopZ recruitment of ParA stimulates ParA to assemble on the nucleoid near the PopZ-proximal cell pole.We identify mutations in PopZ that allow scaffold assembly but specifically abrogate interactions with ParA and demonstrate that PopZ/ParA interactions are required for proper chromosome segregation in vivo. We propose that during segregation PopZ sequesters free ParA and induces target-proximal regeneration of ParA DNA binding activity to enforce processive and pole-directed centromere segregation, preventing segregation reversals. PopZ therefore functions as a polar hub complex at the cell pole to directly regulate the directionality and destination of transfer of the mitotic segregation machine.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E2046-E2055
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 13 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • ParAB
  • Prokaryotic
  • Replication
  • Soj
  • Spo0J


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