Connecting the dots: key insights on ParB for chromosome segregation from single-molecule studies.

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Bacterial cells require DNA segregation machinery to properly distribute a genome to both daughter cells upon division. The most common system involved in chromosome and plasmid segregation in bacteria is the ParABS system. A core protein of this system – partition protein B (ParB) – regulates chromosome organization and chromosome segregation during the bacterial cell cycle. Over the past decades, research has greatly advanced our knowledge of the ParABS system. However, many intricate details of the mechanism of ParB proteins were only recently uncovered using in vitro single-molecule techniques. These approaches allowed the exploration of ParB proteins in precisely controlled environments, free from the complexities of the cellular milieu. This review covers the early developments of this field but emphasizes recent advances in our knowledge of the mechanistic understanding of ParB proteins as revealed by in vitro single-molecule methods. Furthermore, we provide an outlook on future endeavors in investigating ParB, ParB-like proteins, and their interaction partners.