Regulated organization of the chromosome is essential for faithful propa-gation of genetic information. In the model bacterium Caulobacter crescentus, the replication terminus of the chromosome is spatially arranged in close proximity to the cyto-kinetic Z-ring during the cell cycle. Although the Z-ring-associated proteins ZapA and ZauP interact with the terminus recognition protein ZapT, the molecular functions of the complex that physically links the terminus and the Z-ring remain obscure. In this study, we found that the physical linkage helps to organize the terminus DNA into a clustered structure. Neither ZapA nor ZauP was required for ZapT binding to the terminus DNA, but clustering of the ZapT-DNA complexes over the Z-ring was severely com-promised in cells lacking ZapA or ZauP. Biochemical characterization revealed that ZapT, ZauP, and ZapA interacted directly to form a highly ordered ternary complex. Moreover, multiple ZapT molecules were sequestered by each ZauP oligomer. Investigation of the functional structure of ZapT revealed that the C terminus of ZapT specifically interacted with ZauP and was essential for timely positioning of the Z-ring in vivo. Based on these findings, we propose that ZauP-dependent oligomerization of ZapT-DNA complexes plays a distinct role in organizing the replication terminus and the Z-ring. The C termini of ZapT homologs share similar chemical properties, implying a common mechanism for the physical linkage between the terminus and the Z-ring in bacteria.
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