Brownian Ratchet Mechanism for Faithful Segregation of Low-Copy-Number Plasmids.
ABSTRACT: Bacterial plasmids are extrachromosomal DNA that provides selective advantages for bacterial survival. Plasmid partitioning can be remarkably robust. For high-copy-number plasmids, diffusion ensures that both daughter cells inherit plasmids after cell division. In contrast, most low-copy-number plasmids need to be actively partitioned by a conserved tripartite ParA-type system. ParA is an ATPase that binds to chromosomal DNA; ParB is the stimulator of the ParA ATPase and specifically binds to the plasmid at a centromere-like site, parS. ParB stimulation of the ParA ATPase releases ParA from the bacterial chromosome, after which it takes a long time to reset its DNA-binding affinity. We previously demonstrated in vitro that the ParA system can exploit this biochemical asymmetry for directed cargo transport. Multiple ParA-ParB bonds can bridge a parS-coated cargo to a DNA carpet, and they can work collectively as a Brownian ratchet that directs persistent cargo movement with a ParA-depletion zone trailing behind. By extending this model, we suggest that a similar Brownian ratchet mechanism recapitulates the full range of actively segregated plasmid motilities observed in vivo. We demonstrate that plasmid motility is tuned as the replenishment rate of the ParA-depletion zone progressively increases relative to the cargo speed, evolving from diffusion to pole-to-pole oscillation, local excursions, and, finally, immobility. When the plasmid replicates, the daughters largely display motilities similar to that of their mother, except that when the single-focus progenitor is locally excursive, the daughter foci undergo directed segregation. We show that directed segregation maximizes the fidelity of plasmid partition. Given that local excursion and directed segregation are the most commonly observed modes of plasmid motility in vivo, we suggest that the operation of the ParA-type partition system has been shaped by evolution for high fidelity of plasmid segregation.
Project description:The segregation of DNA before cell division is essential for faithful genetic inheritance. In many bacteria, segregation of low-copy number plasmids involves an active partition system composed of a nonspecific DNA-binding ATPase, ParA, and its stimulator protein ParB. The ParA/ParB system drives directed and persistent movement of DNA cargo both in vivo and in vitro. Filament-based models akin to actin/microtubule-driven motility were proposed for plasmid segregation mediated by ParA. Recent experiments challenge this view and suggest that ParA/ParB system motility is driven by a diffusion ratchet mechanism in which ParB-coated plasmid both creates and follows a ParA gradient on the nucleoid surface. However, the detailed mechanism of ParA/ParB-mediated directed and persistent movement remains unknown. Here, we develop a theoretical model describing ParA/ParB-mediated motility. We show that the ParA/ParB system can work as a Brownian ratchet, which effectively couples the ATPase-dependent cycling of ParA-nucleoid affinity to the motion of the ParB-bound cargo. Paradoxically, this resulting processive motion relies on quenching diffusive plasmid motion through a large number of transient ParA/ParB-mediated tethers to the nucleoid surface. Our work thus sheds light on an emergent phenomenon in which nonmotor proteins work collectively via mechanochemical coupling to propel cargos-an ingenious solution shaped by evolution to cope with the lack of processive motor proteins in bacteria.
Project description:DNA segregation ensures the stable inheritance of genetic material prior to cell division. Many bacterial chromosomes and low-copy plasmids, such as the plasmids P1 and F, employ a three-component system to partition replicated genomes: a partition site on the DNA target, typically called parS, a partition site binding protein, typically called ParB, and a Walker-type ATPase, typically called ParA, which also binds non-specific DNA. In vivo, the ParA family of ATPases forms dynamic patterns over the nucleoid, but how ATP-driven patterning is involved in partition is unknown. We reconstituted and visualized ParA-mediated plasmid partition inside a DNA-carpeted flowcell, which acts as an artificial nucleoid. ParA and ParB transiently bridged plasmid to the DNA carpet. ParB-stimulated ATP hydrolysis by ParA resulted in ParA disassembly from the bridging complex and from the surrounding DNA carpet, which led to plasmid detachment. Our results support a diffusion-ratchet model, where ParB on the plasmid chases and redistributes the ParA gradient on the nucleoid, which in turn mobilizes the plasmid.
Project description:The faithful segregation of duplicated genetic material into daughter cells is critical to all organisms. In many bacteria, the segregation of chromosomes involves transport of "centromere-like" loci over the main body of the chromosome, the nucleoid, mediated by a two-protein partition system: a nonspecific DNA-binding ATPase, ParA, and an ATPase stimulator, ParB, which binds to the centromere-like loci. These systems have previously been proposed to function through a filament-based mechanism, analogous to actin- or microtubule-based movement. Here, we reconstituted the F-plasmid partition system using a DNA-carpeted flow cell as an artificial nucleoid surface and magnetic beads coated with plasmid partition complexes as surface-confined cargo. This minimal system recapitulated directed cargo motion driven by a surface ATPase gradient that propagated with the cargo. The dynamics are consistent with a diffusion-ratchet model, whereby the cargo dynamically establishes, and interacts with, a concentration gradient of the ATPase. A chemophoresis force ensues as the cargo perpetually chases the ATPase gradient, allowing the cargo to essentially "surf" the nucleoid on a continuously traveling wave of the ATPase. Demonstration of this non-filament-based motility mechanism in a biological context establishes a distinct class of motor system used for the transport and positioning of large cellular cargo.
Project description:Low copy number plasmids in bacteria require segregation for stable inheritance through cell division. This is often achieved by a parABC locus, comprising an ATPase ParA, DNA-binding protein ParB and a parC region, encoding ParB-binding sites. These minimal components space plasmids equally over the nucleoid, yet the underlying mechanism is not understood. Here we investigate a model where ParA-ATP can dynamically associate to the nucleoid and is hydrolyzed by plasmid-associated ParB, thereby creating nucleoid-bound, self-organizing ParA concentration gradients. We show mathematically that differences between competing ParA concentrations on either side of a plasmid can specify regular plasmid positioning. Such positioning can be achieved regardless of the exact mechanism of plasmid movement, including plasmid diffusion with ParA-mediated immobilization or directed plasmid motion induced by ParB/parC-stimulated ParA structure disassembly. However, we find experimentally that parABC from Escherichia coli plasmid pB171 increases plasmid mobility, inconsistent with diffusion/immobilization. Instead our observations favor directed plasmid motion. Our model predicts less oscillatory ParA dynamics than previously believed, a prediction we verify experimentally. We also show that ParA localization and plasmid positioning depend on the underlying nucleoid morphology, indicating that the chromosomal architecture constrains ParA structure formation. Our directed motion model unifies previously contradictory models for plasmid segregation and provides a robust mechanistic basis for self-organized plasmid spacing that may be widely applicable.
Project description:Walker-box partition systems are ubiquitous in nature and mediate the segregation of bacterial and archaeal DNA. Well-studied plasmid Walker-box partition modules require ParA, centromere-DNA, and a centromere-binding protein, ParB. In these systems, ParA-ATP binds nucleoid DNA and uses it as a substratum to deliver ParB-attached cargo DNA, and ParB drives ParA dynamics, allowing ParA progression along the nucleoid. How ParA-ATP binds nonspecific DNA and is regulated by ParB is unclear. Also under debate is whether ParA polymerizes on DNA to mediate segregation. Here we describe structures of key ParA segregation complexes. The ParA-?,?-imidoadenosine 5'-triphosphate (AMPPNP)-DNA structure revealed no polymers. Instead, ParA-AMPPNP dimerization creates a multifaceted DNA-binding surface, allowing it to preferentially bind high-density DNA regions (HDRs). DNA-bound ParA-AMPPNP adopts a dimer conformation distinct from the ATP sandwich dimer, optimized for DNA association. Our ParA-AMPPNP-ParB structure reveals that ParB binds at the ParA dimer interface, stabilizing the ATPase-competent ATP sandwich dimer, ultimately driving ParA DNA dissociation. Thus, the data indicate how harnessing a conformationally adaptive dimer can drive large-scale cargo movement without the requirement for polymers and suggest a segregation mechanism by which ParA-ATP dimers equilibrate to HDRs shown to be localized near cell poles of dividing chromosomes, thus mediating equipartition of attached ParB-DNA substrates.
Project description:Spatial ordering of macromolecular components inside cells is important for cellular physiology and replication. In bacteria, ParA/B systems are known to generate various intracellular patterns that underlie the transport and partitioning of low-copy-number cargos such as plasmids. ParA/B systems consist of ParA, an ATPase that dimerizes and binds DNA upon ATP binding, and ParB, a protein that binds the cargo and stimulates ParA ATPase activity. Inside cells, ParA is asymmetrically distributed, forming a propagating wave that is followed by the ParB-rich cargo. These correlated dynamics lead to cargo oscillation or equidistant spacing over the nucleoid depending on whether the cargo is in single or multiple copies. Currently, there is no model that explains how these different spatial patterns arise and relate to each other. Here, we test a simple DNA-relay model that has no imposed asymmetry and that only considers the ParA/ParB biochemistry and the known fluctuating and elastic dynamics of chromosomal loci. Stochastic simulations with experimentally derived parameters demonstrate that this model is sufficient to reproduce the signature patterns of ParA/B systems: the propagating ParA gradient correlated with the cargo dynamics, the single-cargo oscillatory motion, and the multicargo equidistant patterning. Stochasticity of ATP hydrolysis breaks the initial symmetry in ParA distribution, resulting in imbalance of elastic force acting on the cargo. Our results may apply beyond ParA/B systems as they reveal how a minimal system of two players, one binding to DNA and the other modulating this binding, can transform directionally random DNA fluctuations into directed motion and intracellular patterning.
Project description:Increasingly diverse types of cargo are being found to be segregated and positioned by ParA-type ATPases. Several minimalistic systems described in bacteria are self-organizing and are known to affect the transport of plasmids, protein machineries, and chromosomal loci. One well-studied model is the F plasmid partition system, SopABC. In vivo, SopA ATPase forms dynamic patterns on the nucleoid in the presence of the ATPase stimulator, SopB, which binds to the sopC site on the plasmid, demarcating it as the cargo. To understand the relationship between nucleoid patterning and plasmid transport, we established a cell-free system to study plasmid partition reactions in a DNA-carpeted flowcell. We observed depletion zones of the partition ATPase on the DNA carpet surrounding partition complexes. The findings favor a diffusion-ratchet model for plasmid motion whereby partition complexes create an ATPase concentration gradient and then climb up this gradient toward higher concentrations of the ATPase. Here, we report on the dynamic properties of the Sop system on a DNA-carpet substrate, which further support the proposed diffusion-ratchet mechanism.
Project description:P1 ParA is a member of the Walker-type family of partition ATPases involved in the segregation of plasmids and bacterial chromosomes. ATPases of this class interact with DNA non-specifically in vitro and colocalize with the bacterial nucleoid to generate a variety of reported patterns in vivo. Here, we directly visualize ParA binding to DNA using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. This activity depends on, and is highly specific for ATP. DNA-binding activity is not coupled to ATP hydrolysis. Rather, ParA undergoes a slow multi-step conformational transition upon ATP binding, which licenses ParA to bind non-specific DNA. The kinetics provide a time-delay switch to allow slow cycling between the DNA binding and non-binding forms of ParA. We propose that this time delay, combined with stimulation of ParA's ATPase activity by ParB bound to the plasmid DNA, generates an uneven distribution of the nucleoid-associated ParA, and provides the motive force for plasmid segregation prior to cell division.
Project description:The ParABS partitioning system, a main driver of DNA segregation in bacteria, employs two proteins, ParA and ParB, for plasmid partition. The pMF1 plasmid from <i>Myxococcus fulvus</i> 124B02 has a <i>par</i> operon encoding a small acidic protein, ParC, in addition to type I ParA and ParB homologs. Here, we show that expression of <i>parC</i> upstream of <i>parA</i> (as in the natural case), but not ectopic expression, is essential for the plasmid inheritance in <i>Myxococcus</i> cells. Co-expression of <i>parC</i> upstream of <i>parA</i> was determined to form a soluble ParC-ParA heterodimer at a 1:1 ratio, while individual expression of <i>parA</i> or co-expression of <i>parA</i> with ectopic <i>parC</i> formed insoluble ParA proteins. Purified ParA proteins alone had no ATPase activity and was easily dimerized, while mixing ParA with ParC formed the ParC-ParA heterodimer with the ATPase and polymerization activities. Fusing ParC and ParA also produced soluble proteins and some chimeras restored the ATPase activity and plasmid inheritance. The results highlight that proximal location of <i>parC</i> before <i>parA</i> is critical to realize the functions of ParA in the partition of <i>Myxococcus</i> plasmid pMF1 and shed light on a new mechanism to realize a protein function by two separate proteins.
Project description:Chromosome and plasmid segregation in bacteria are mostly driven by ParABS systems. These DNA partitioning machineries rely on large nucleoprotein complexes assembled on centromere sites (parS). However, the mechanism of how a few parS-bound ParB proteins nucleate the formation of highly concentrated ParB clusters remains unclear despite several proposed physico-mathematical models. We discriminated between these different models by varying some key parameters in vivo using the F plasmid partition system. We found that "Nucleation & caging" is the only coherent model recapitulating in vivo data. We also showed that the stochastic self-assembly of partition complexes (i) is a robust mechanism, (ii) does not directly involve ParA ATPase, (iii) results in a dynamic structure of discrete size independent of ParB concentration, and (iv) is not perturbed by active transcription but is by protein complexes. We refined the "Nucleation & caging" model and successfully applied it to the chromosomally encoded Par system of Vibrio cholerae, indicating that this stochastic self-assembly mechanism is widely conserved from plasmids to chromosomes.