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Miermans, Christiaan A.; Broedersz, Chase P. (2018): Bacterial chromosome organization by collective dynamics of SMC condensins. In: Journal of the Royal Society Interface, Vol. 15, No. 147, 20180495
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A prominent organizational feature of bacterial chromosomes was revealed by Hi-C experiments, indicating anomalously high contacts between the left and right chromosomal arms. These long-range contacts have been attributed to various nucleoid-associated proteins, including the ATPase Structural Maintenance of Chromosomes (SMC) condensin. Although the molecular structure of these ATPases has been mapped in detail, it still remains unclear by which physical mechanisms they collectively generate long-range chromosomal contacts. Here, we develop a computational model that captures the subtle interplay between molecular-scale activity of slip-links and large-scale chromosome organization. We first consider a scenario in which the ATPase activity of slip-links regulates their DNA-recruitment near the origin of replication, while the slip-link dynamics is assumed to be diffusive. We find that such diffusive slip-links can collectively organize the entire chromosome into a state with aligned arms, but not within physiological constraints. However, slip-links that include motor activity are far more effective at organizing the entire chromosome over all length-scales. The persistence of motor slip-links at physiological densities can generate large, nested loops and drive the minto the bulk of the DNA. Finally, our model with motor slip-links can quantitatively account for the rapid arm-arm alignment of chromosomal arms observed in vivo.