High-Resolution Mapping of the Spatial Organization of a Bacterial Chromosome

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Science  24 Oct 2013:
DOI: 10.1126/science.1242059

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Chromosomes must be highly compacted and organized within cells, but how this is achieved in vivo remains poorly understood. We report the use of Hi-C to map the structure of bacterial chromosomes. Analysis of Hi-C data and polymer modeling indicates that the Caulobacter crescentus chromosome consists of multiple, largely independent spatial domains likely comprised of supercoiled plectonemes arrayed into a bottlebrush-like fiber. These domains are stable throughout the cell cycle and re-established concomitantly with DNA replication. We provide evidence that domain boundaries are established by highly expressed genes and the formation of plectoneme-free regions, whereas the histone-like proteins HU and SMC promote short-range compaction and the cohesion of chromosomal arms, respectively. Collectively, our results reveal general principles for the organization and structure of chromosomes in vivo.

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