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J Bacteriol. Aug 1993; 175(15): 4584–4596.
PMCID: PMC204909

Minimal replication origin of the 200-kilobase Halobacterium plasmid pNRC100.


We have identified the replication origin of pNRC100, a 200-kb plasmid of Halobacterium halobium, by assaying for replication ability of miniplasmids containing cloned fragments of pNRC100 and the mevinolin resistance selectable marker of Haloferax volcanii. First, we showed the replication ability of plasmid pNGHCMEV1, which contains the 19-kb HindIII-C fragment of pNRC100, by recovery of plasmid DNA from mevinolin-resistant transformants of H. halobium. The minimal replication origin of approximately 3.9 kb was defined by subcloning successively smaller regions of pNGHCMEV1 and assaying for plasmid replication in either H. halobium or H. volcanii. The same replication origin was also recovered after transformation of H. volcanii with a library of partial Sau3AI fragments of pNRC100. The nucleotide sequence of the minimal replication origin was determined and found to contain a long open reading frame, named repH, transcribed away from a highly A+T-rich region. The transcription start site was identified by primer extension analysis to be 17 to 18 nucleotides 5' to a putative repH start codon. The predicted product of the repH gene, an acidic protein with a molecular weight of 113,442, showed 24 to 27% identity with predicted gene products of H. volcanii plasmid pHV2 and H. halobium plasmid p phi HL, suggesting that each is involved in plasmid replication. One pNRC100 minireplicon, pNG11 delta 12, was analyzed by linker scanning mutagenesis, which showed the requirement of repH for replication. Restoration of the repH reading frame of one replication-defective pNG11 delta 12 derivative by introduction of a second small insertion resulted in reversion to replication proficiency. The replication ability of pNG11delta12 was lost when the entire A+T-rich region, about 550 bp long, was deleted but not when small insertions or deletions were introduced into this region. The presence of only 52 bp of the A+T-rich segment was sufficient to permit replication. The pNG11delta12 minireplicon was lost at high frequency from cells grown without mevinolin selection, suggesting that the plasmid partitioning locus of pNRC100 is absent in the minimal replication origin region. We discuss the possible roles of the repH gene and the A+T-rich region in replication of pNRC100.

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