Cui T, Moro-oka N, Ohsumi K, Kodama K, Ohshima T, Ogasawara N, Mori H, Wanner B, Niki H, Horiuchi T.
Chromosomes in eukaryotes are linear, whereas those of most, but not all, prokaryotes are circular. To explore the effects of possessing a linear genome on prokaryotic cells, we linearized the Escherichia coli genome using the lysogenic lambda-like phage N15. Linear genome E. coli were viable and their genome structure was stable. There were no appreciable differences between cells with linear or circular genomes in growth rates, cell and nucleoid morphologies, genome-wide gene expression (with a few exceptions), and DNA gyrase- and topoisomerase IV-dependent growth. However, under dif-defective conditions, only cells with a circular genome developed an abnormal phenotype. Microscopy indicated that the ends of the linear genome, but not the circular genome, were separated and located at each end of a new-born cell. When tos - the cis-element required for linearization - was inserted into different chromosomal sites, those strains with the genome termini that were more remote from dif showed greater growth deficiencies.