The Gram-positive pathogen Staphylococcus aureus divides by synthesizing the septum in three orthogonal planes over three consecutive division cycles. This process has to be tightly coordinated with chromosome segregation to avoid bisection of the nucleoid by the septum. Here we show that deletion of the nucleoid occlusion effector Noc in S. aureus results in the formation of Z-rings over the nucleoid, as well as in DNA breaks, indicating that Noc has an important role as an antiguillotine checkpoint that prevents septa from forming over the DNA. Furthermore, Noc deleted cells show multiple Z-rings which are no longer placed in perpendicular planes. We propose that the axis of chromosome segregation has a role in determining the placement of the division septum. This is achieved via the action of Noc which restricts the placement of the division septum to one of an infinite number of potential division planes that exist in S. aureus.
© 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.