Plasmid segregation mechanisms

Annu Rev Genet. 2005;39:453-79. doi: 10.1146/annurev.genet.38.072902.091252.


Bacterial plasmids encode partitioning (par) loci that ensure ordered plasmid segregation prior to cell division. par loci come in two types: those that encode actin-like ATPases and those that encode deviant Walker-type ATPases. ParM, the actin-like ATPase of plasmid R1, forms dynamic filaments that segregate plasmids paired at mid-cell to daughter cells. Like microtubules, ParM filaments exhibit dynamic instability (i.e., catastrophic decay) whose regulation is an important component of the DNA segregation process. The Walker box ParA ATPases are related to MinD and form highly dynamic, oscillating filaments that are required for the subcellular movement and positioning of plasmids. The role of the observed ATPase oscillation is not yet understood. However, we propose a simple model that couples plasmid segregation to ParA oscillation. The model is consistent with the observed movement and localization patterns of plasmid foci and does not require the involvement of plasmid-specific host-encoded factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Actins / chemistry
  • Actins / metabolism
  • Chromosome Segregation
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / physiology
  • Gene Silencing
  • Plasmids / genetics*
  • Plasmids / physiology*


  • Actins
  • DNA, Bacterial