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Mol Genet Genomics. 2002 Apr;267(2):171-8. Epub 2002 Feb 27.

Characterization of pECL18 and pKPN2: a proposed pathway for the evolution of two plasmids that carry identical genes for a Type II restriction-modification system.

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Institute of Biochemistry and Physiology of Microorganisms, Russian Academy of Sciences, Pushchino, Moscow Region, 142290, Russia.


The primary structures of the plasmids pECL18 (5571 bp) and pKPN2 (4196 bp) from Escherichia coli and Klebsiella pneumoniae, respectively, which carry genes for a Type II restriction-modification system (RMS2) with the specificity 5'-CCNGG-3', were determined in order to elucidate the structural relationship between them. The data suggest a possible role for recombination events at bom (basis of mobility) regions and the sites of resolution of multimer plasmid forms (so-called cer sequences) in the structural evolution of multicopy plasmids. Analysis of the sequences of pECL18 and pKPN2 showed that the genes for RM* Ecl18kI and RM* Kpn2kI, and the sequences of the rep (replication) regions in the two plasmids, are almost identical. In both plasmids, these regions are localized between the bom regions and the cer sites. The rest of the pECL18 sequence is almost identical to that of the mob (mobilization) region of ColE1, and the corresponding segment of pKPN2 is almost identical to part of pHS-2 from Shigella flexneri. The difference in primary structures results in different mobilization properties of pECL18 and pKPN2. The complete sequences of pECL18, pKPN2 and the pairwise comparison of the sequences of pECL18, pKPN2, ColE1 and pHS-2 suggest that plasmids may exchange DNA units via site-specific recombination events at bom and cer sites. In the course of BLASTN database searches using the cer sites of pECL18 and pKPN2 as queries, we found twenty cer sites of natural plasmids. Alignment of these sequences reveals that they fall into two classes. The plasmids in each group possess related segments between their cer and bom sites.

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