The CTP-binding domain is disengaged from the DNA-binding domain in a co-crystal structure of Bacillus subtilis Noc-DNA complex.

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In Bacillus subtilis, a ParB-like nucleoid occlusion protein (Noc) binds specifically to Noc-binding sites (NBS) on the chromosome to help coordinate chromosome segregation and cell division. Noc does so by binding to cytidine triphosphate (CTP) to form large membrane-associated nucleoprotein complexes to physically inhibit the assembly of the cell division machinery. The site-specific binding of Noc to NBS DNA is a prerequisite for CTP-binding and the subsequent formation of a membrane-active DNA-entrapped protein complex. Here, we solve the structure of a C-terminally truncated B. subtilis Noc bound to NBS DNA to reveal the conformation of Noc at this crucial step. Our structure reveals the disengagement between the N-terminal CTP-binding domain and the NBS-binding domain of each DNA-bound Noc subunit, this is driven, in part, by the swapping of helices 4 and 5 at the interface of the two domains. Site-specific crosslinking data suggest that this conformation of Noc-NBS exists in solution. Overall, our results lend support to the recent proposal that parS/NBS-binding catalyzes CTP-binding and DNA-entrapment by preventing the re-engagement of the CTP-binding domain and the DNA-binding domain from the same ParB/Noc subunit.