P1 partition complex assembly involves several modes of protein-DNA recognition.
Assembly of P1 plasmid partition complexes at the partition site, parS, is nucleated by a dimer of P1 ParB and Escherichia coli integration host factor (IHF), which promotes loading of more ParB dimers and the pairing of plasmids during the cell cycle. ParB binds several copies of two distinct recognition motifs, known as A- and B-boxes, which flank a bend in parS created by IHF binding. The recent crystal structure of ParB bound to a partial parS site revealed two relatively independent DNA-binding domains and raised the question of how a dimer of ParB recognizes its complicated arrangement of recognition motifs when it loads onto the full parS site in the presence of IHF. In this study, we addressed this question by examining ParB binding activities to parS mutants containing different combinations of the A- and B-box motifs in parS. Binding was measured to linear and supercoiled DNA in electrophoretic and filter binding assays, respectively. ParB showed preferences for certain motifs that are dependent on position and on plasmid topology. In the simplest arrangement, one motif on either side of the bend was sufficient to form a complex, although affinity differed depending on the motifs. Therefore, a ParB dimer can load onto parS in different ways, so that the initial ParB-IHF-parS complex consists of a mixture of different orientations of ParB. This arrangement supports a model in which parS motifs are available for interas well as intramolecular parS recognition.
Vecchiarelli, AG; Schumacher, MA; Funnell, BE
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