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Mol Microbiol. 1992 Nov;6(22):3385-93.

High copy number of the pUC plasmid results from a Rom/Rop-suppressible point mutation in RNA II.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, Republic of China.


The plasmids pUC18 and pUC19 are pBR322 derivatives that replicate at a copy number several fold higher than the parent during growth of Escherichia coli at 37 degrees C. We show here that the high copy number of pUC plasmids results from a single point mutation in the replication primer, RNA II, and that the phenotypic effects of this mutation can be suppressed by the Rom (RNA one modulator)/Rop protein or by lowering the growth temperature to 30 degrees C. The mutation's effects are enhanced by cell growth at 42 degrees C, at which copy number is further increased. During normal cell growth, the pUC mutation does not affect the length or function of RNA I, the antisense repressor of plasmid DNA replication, but may, as computer analysis suggests, alter the secondary structure of pUC RNA II. We suggest that the pUC mutation impedes interactions between the repressor and the primer by producing a temperature-dependent alteration of the RNA II conformation. The Rom/Rop protein may either promote normal folding of the mutated RNA II or, alternatively, may enable the interaction of sub-optimally folded RNA II with the repressor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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