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Plasmid. 2006 Jan;55(1):1-26. Epub 2005 Sep 30.

Plasmid R1--replication and its control.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Biomedical Center, Uppsala University, P.O. Box 596, S-751 24 Uppsala, Sweden.


Plasmid R1 is a low-copy-number plasmid belonging to the IncFII group. The genetics, biochemistry, molecular biology, and physiology of R1 replication and its control are summarised and discussed in the present communication. Replication of R1 starts at a unique origin, oriR1, and proceeds unidirectionally according to the Theta mode. Plasmid R1 replicates during the entire cell cycle and the R1 copies in the cell are members of a pool from which a plasmid copy at random is selected for replication. However, there is an eclipse period during which a newly replicated copy does not belong to this pool. Replication of R1 is controlled by an antisense RNA, CopA, that is unstable and formed constitutively; hence, its concentration is a measure of the concentration of the plasmid. CopA-RNA interacts with its complementary target, CopT-RNA, that is located upstream of the RepA message on the repA-mRNA. CopA-RNA post-transcriptionally inhibits translation of the repA-mRNA. CopA- and CopT-RNA interact in a bimolecular reaction which results in an inverse proportionality between the relative rate of replication (replications per plasmid copy and cell cycle) and the copy number; the number of replications per cell and cell cycle, n, is independent of the actual copy number in the individual cells, the so-called +n mode of control. Single base-pair substitutions in the copA/copT region of the plasmid genome may result in mutants that are compatible with the wild type. Loss of CopA activity results in (uncontrolled) so-called runaway replication, which is lethal to the host but useful for the production of proteins from cloned genes. Plasmid R1 also has an ancillary control system, CopB, that derepresses the synthesis of repA-mRNA in cells that happen to contain lower than normal number of copies. Plasmid R1, as other plasmids, form clusters in the cell and plasmid replication is assumed to take place in the centre of the cells; this requires traffic from the cluster to the replication factories and back to the clusters. The clusters are plasmid-specific and presumably based on sequence homology.

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