Mechanics of DNA bridging by bacterial condensin MukBEF in vitro and in singulo

EMBO J. 2010 Mar 17;29(6):1126-35. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2009.414. Epub 2010 Jan 14.


Structural maintenance of chromosome (SMC) proteins comprise the core of several specialized complexes that stabilize the global architecture of the chromosomes by dynamically linking distant DNA fragments. This reaction however remains poorly understood giving rise to numerous proposed mechanisms of the proteins. Using two novel assays, we investigated real-time formation of DNA bridges by bacterial condensin MukBEF. We report that MukBEF can efficiently bridge two DNAs and that this reaction involves multiple steps. The reaction begins with the formation of a stable MukB-DNA complex, which can further capture another protein-free DNA fragment. The initial tether is unstable but is quickly strengthened by additional MukBs. DNA bridging is modulated but is not strictly dependent on ATP and MukEF. The reaction revealed high preference for right-handed DNA crossings indicating that bridging involves physical association of MukB with both DNAs. Our data establish a comprehensive view of DNA bridging by MukBEF, which could explain how SMCs establish both intra- and interchromosomal links inside the cell and indicate that DNA binding and bridging could be separately regulated.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / chemistry*
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA, Bacterial / chemistry*
  • DNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / chemistry*
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Multiprotein Complexes / chemistry*
  • Multiprotein Complexes / metabolism*


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Multiprotein Complexes
  • condensin complexes
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases