Direct observation of independently moving replisomes in Escherichia coli
The replication and transfer of genomic material from a cell to its progeny are vital processes in all living systems. Here we visualize the process of chromosome replication in E. coli cells with an increased width. Monitoring the replication of single chromosomes yields clear examples of replication bubbles that reveal that the two replisomes move independently from the origin to the terminus of replication along each of the two arms of the circular chromosome, providing direct support for the so-called train-track model, and against a factory model for replisomes. The origin of replication duplicates near midcell, initially splitting to random directions and subsequently towards the poles. The probability of successful segregation of chromosomes significantly decreases with increasing cell width, indicating that chromosome confinement by the cell boundary is an important driver of DNA segregation. Our findings resolve long standing questions in bacterial chromosome organization.
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