The structure and function of the bacterial chromosome

Curr Opin Genet Dev. 2005 Apr;15(2):153-62. doi: 10.1016/j.gde.2005.01.001.


Advances in microscopic and cell biological techniques have considerably improved our understanding of bacterial chromosome organization and dynamics. The nucleoid was formerly perceived to be an amorphous entity divided into ill-defined domains of supercoiling that are randomly deposited in the cell. Recent work, however, has demonstrated a remarkable degree of spatial organization. A highly ordered chromosome structure, established while DNA replication and partitioning are in progress, is maintained and propagated during growth. Duplication of the chromosome and partitioning of the newly generated daughter strands are interwoven processes driven by the dynamic interplay between the synthesis, segregation and condensation of DNA. These events are intimately coupled with the bacterial cell cycle and exhibit a previously unanticipated complexity reminiscent of eukaryotic systems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics
  • Bacterial Physiological Phenomena
  • Cell Cycle
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial / physiology*
  • DNA Replication*
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism*


  • DNA, Bacterial