Bacterial replication, transcription and translation: mechanistic insights from single-molecule biochemical studies
Decades of research have resulted in a remarkably detailed understanding of the molecular mechanisms of bacterial DNA replication, transcription and translation. Our understanding of the kinetics and physical mechanisms that drive these processes forward has been expanded by the ability of single-molecule in vitro techniques, such as force spectroscopy and single-molecule Förster (fluorescence) resonance energy transfer (smFRET), to capture short-lived intermediate states in complex pathways. Furthermore, these technologies have revealed novel mechanisms that support enzyme processivity and govern the assembly of large multicomponent complexes. Here, we summarize the application of in vitro single-molecule studies to the analysis of fundamental bacterial processes, with a focus on the most recent functional insights that have been gained from fluorescence-based methods.