A model for Escherichia coli chromosome packaging supports transcription factor-induced DNA domain formation.

Document Type


Publication Date



Chromosomes, Bacterial, DNA, Bacterial, Escherichia coli, Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial, Gene Regulatory Networks, Models, Genetic, Transcription Factors

JAX Source

Nucleic Acids Res 2012 Feb; 40(3):972-80.




What physical mechanism leads to organization of a highly condensed and confined circular chromosome? Computational modeling shows that confinement-induced organization is able to overcome the chromosome's propensity to mix by the formation of topological domains. The experimentally observed high precision of separate subcellular positioning of loci (located on different chromosomal domains) in Escherichia coli naturally emerges as a result of entropic demixing of such chromosomal loops. We propose one possible mechanism for organizing these domains: regulatory control defined by the underlying E. coli gene regulatory network requires the colocalization of transcription factor genes and target genes. Investigating this assumption, we find the DNA chain to self-organize into several topologically distinguishable domains where the interplay between the entropic repulsion of chromosomal loops and their compression due to the confining geometry induces an effective nucleoid filament-type of structure. Thus, we propose that the physical structure of the chromosome is a direct result of regulatory interactions. To reproduce the observed precise ordering of the chromosome, we estimate that the domain sizes are distributed between 10 and 700 kb, in agreement with the size of topological domains identified in the context of DNA supercoiling.