Probing bacterial nucleoid structure with optical tweezers

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The H-NS protein is a major component of the nucleoid in Gram-negative bacterial cells. It is a global regulator of transcription that affects the expression of many genes, including virulence genes in pathogenic species. At a local level, it facilitates the formation of nucleoprotein structures that repress transcriptional promoter function. H-NS can form bridges between different DNA molecules or between different sections of the same molecule, allowing it to compact and impose structure on the nucleoid. A recent paper by Dame et al.(1) reports new insights into H-NS-mediated DNA bridging that were obtained using an optical tweezers device.

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