The bacterial ParA-ParB proteins

Colin Bignell, Christopher Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

151 Citations (Scopus)


A pair of genes designated parA and parB are encoded by many low copy number plasmids and bacterial chromosomes. They work with one or more cis-acting sites termed centromere-like sequences to ensure better than random predivisional partitioning of the DNA molecule that encodes them. The centromere-like sequences nucleate binding of ParB and titrate sufficient protein to create foci, which are easily visible by immuno-fluorescence microscopy. These foci normally follow the plasmid or the chromosomal replication oriC complexes. ParA is a membrane-associated ATPase that is essential for this symmetric movement of the ParB foci. In Bacillus subtilis ParA oscillates from end to end of the cell as does MinD of E. coli, a relative of the ParA family. ParA may facilitate ParB movement along the inner surface of the cytoplasmic membrane to encounter and become tethered to the next replication zone. The ATP-bound form of ParA appears to adopt the conformation needed to drive partition. Hydrolysis to create ParA-ADP or free ParA appears to favour a form that is not located at the pole and binds to DNA rather than the partition complex. Definition of the protein domains needed for interaction with membranes and the conformational changes that occur on interaction with ATP/ADP will provide insights into the partitioning mechanism and possible targets for inhibitors of partitioning.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-34
Number of pages34
JournalJournal of Biotechnology
Publication statusPublished - 13 Oct 2001


  • centromere-like sequences
  • partitioning
  • chromosomes
  • DNA-binding proteins
  • plasmids
  • bacterial mitosis
  • antibacterial targets
  • membrane ATPase


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