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J Bacteriol. 1992 Oct;174(19):6103-8.

Evidence that a plasmid from a hyperthermophilic archaebacterium is relaxed at physiological temperatures.

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  • 1Institut de Génétique et Microbiologie, URA 1354 Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Université Paris Sud, Orsay, France.


A plasmid of 3.45 kb (pGT5) was recently discovered in a strain of hyperthermophilic archaebacterium which was isolated from samples collected in a deep-sea hydrothermal vent. This strain (GE5) grows within a temperature range of 68 to 101.5 degrees C, and we show here that it contains a strong ATP-dependent reverse gyrase activity (positive DNA supercoiling). By comparison with eubacterial plasmids of known superhelical densities, we estimated the superhelical density of the archaebacterial plasmid pGT5 to be -0.026 at 25 degrees C. The equation which relates the change of the rotation angle of the DNA double helix with temperature was validated at 95 degrees C, the optimal growth temperature of the GE5 strain. Considering these new data, the superhelical density of plasmid pGT5 was calculated to be -0.006 at the physiological temperature of 95 degrees C, which is close to the relaxed state. This finding shows that the DNA topology of a plasmid isolated from a hyperthermophilic archaebacterium containing reverse gyrase activity is strikingly different from that of typical eubacterial plasmids.

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