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J Bacteriol. 2000 Jun;182(11):3117-24.

Structural elements required for replication and incompatibility of the Rhizobium etli symbiotic plasmid.

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  • 1Programa de Evolución Molecular, Centro de Investigación sobre Fijación de Nitrógeno, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Cuernavaca, Morelos, México.


The symbiotic plasmid of Rhizobium etli CE3 belongs to the RepABC family of plasmid replicons. This family is characterized by the presence of three conserved genes, repA, repB, and repC, encoded by the same DNA strand. A long intergenic sequence (igs) between repB and repC is also conserved in all members of the plasmid family. In this paper we demonstrate that (i) the repABC genes are organized in an operon; (ii) the RepC product is essential for replication; (iii) RepA and RepB products participate in plasmid segregation and in the regulation of plasmid copy number; (iv) there are two cis-acting incompatibility regions, one located in the igs (incalpha) and the other downstream of repC (incbeta) (the former is essential for replication); and (v) RepA is a trans-acting incompatibility factor. We suggest that incalpha is a cis-acting site required for plasmid partitioning and that the origin of replication lies within incbeta.

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