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J Biol Chem. 1999 Jun 18;274(25):17918-23.

A critical DnaA box directs the cooperative binding of the Escherichia coli DnaA protein to the plasmid RK2 replication origin.

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Department of Biology, Center for Molecular Genetics, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0322, USA.


The requirement of DnaA protein binding for plasmid RK2 replication initiation the Escherichia coli was investigated by constructing mutations in the plasmid replication origin that scrambled or deleted each of the four upstream DnaA boxes. Altered origins were analyzed for replication activity in vivo and in vitro and for binding to the E. coli DnaA protein using a gel mobility shift assay and DNase I footprinting. Most strikingly, a mutation in one of the boxes, box 4, abolished replication activity and eliminated stable DnaA protein binding to all four boxes. Unlike DnaA binding to the E. coli origin, oriC, DnaA binding to two of the boxes (boxes 4 and 3) in the RK2 origin, oriV, is cooperative with box 4 acting as the "organizer" for the formation of the DnaA-oriV nucleoprotein complex. Interestingly, the inversion of box 4 also abolished replication activity, but did not result in a loss of binding to the other boxes. However, DnaA binding to this mutant origin was no longer cooperative. These results demonstrate that the sequence, position, and orientation of box 4 are crucial for cooperative DnaA binding and the formation of a nucleoprotein structure that is functional for the initiation of replication.

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