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Microb Cell Fact. 2002 May 13;1(1):2.

Stress responses and replication of plasmids in bacterial cells.

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1
Department of Molecular Biology, University of Gdansk, Kladki 24, 80-822 Gdansk, Poland. wegrzyn@biotech.univ.gda.pl

Abstract

Plasmids, DNA (or rarely RNA) molecules which replicate in cells autonomously (independently of chromosomes) as non-essential genetic elements, play important roles for microbes grown under specific environmental conditions as well as in scientific laboratories and in biotechnology. For example, bacterial plasmids are excellent models in studies on regulation of DNA replication, and their derivatives are the most commonly used vectors in genetic engineering. Detailed mechanisms of replication initiation, which is the crucial process for efficient maintenance of plasmids in cells, have been elucidated for several plasmids. However, to understand plasmid biology, it is necessary to understand regulation of plasmid DNA replication in response to different environmental conditions in which host cells exist. Knowledge of such regulatory processes is also very important for those who use plasmids as expression vectors to produce large amounts of recombinant proteins. Variable conditions in large-scale fermentations must influence replication of plasmid DNA in cells, thus affecting the efficiency of recombinant gene expression significantly. Contrary to extensively investigated biochemistry of plasmid replication, molecular mechanisms of regulation of plasmid DNA replication in response to various environmental stress conditions are relatively poorly understood. There are, however, recently published studies that add significant data to our knowledge on relations between cellular stress responses and control of plasmid DNA replication. In this review we focus on plasmids derived from bacteriophage lambda that are among the best investigated replicons. Nevertheless, recent results of studies on other plasmids are also discussed shortly.

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