The structural maintenance of chromosomes (SMC) proteins play a vital role in genome stability and chromosome organization in all domains of life. Previous reports show that smc deletion causes decondensation of chromosome and an increased frequency of anucleated cells in bacteria. However, smc deletion in both Mycobacterium smegmatis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis did not affect chromosome condensation or the frequency of anucleated cells. In an attempt to understand this difference in M. smegmatis, we investigated the function of MksB (MsMksB), an alternate SMC-like protein. Like other bacterial SMCs, MsMksB is also an elongated homodimer, in which a central hinge domain connects two globular ATPase head domains via two coiled-coil arms. We show that full-length MsMksB binds to different topological forms of DNA without any preferences. However, the hinge and headless domains prefer binding to single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) and linear double-stranded DNA (dsDNA), respectively. The binding of MsMksB to DNA was independent of ATP as its ATP hydrolysis deficient mutant was also proficient in DNA binding. Further, the cytological profiling studies revealed that only the full-length MsMksB and none of its structural domains could condense the bacterial chromosome. This observation indicates the plausibility of the concerted action of different structural domains of SMC to bind and condense the chromosome. Moreover, MsMksB exhibited DNA stimulated ATPase activity, in addition to its intrinsic ATPase activity. Taken together, we have elucidated the function of an alternate bacterial condensin protein MksB and its structural domains in DNA binding and condensation.
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