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Mol Microbiol. 2008 Nov;70(4):1000-11. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2008.06465.x. Epub 2008 Sep 30.

F plasmid partition depends on interaction of SopA with non-specific DNA.

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Laboratoire de Microbiologie et Génétique Moléculaires, Université Paul Sabatier, F31000 Toulouse, France.


Bacterial ATPases belonging to the ParA family assure partition of their replicons by forming dynamic assemblies which move replicon copies into the new cell-halves. The mechanism underlying partition is not understood for the Walker-box ATPase class, which includes most plasmid and all chromosomal ParAs. The ATPases studied both polymerize and interact with non-specific DNA in an ATP-dependent manner. Previous work showed that in vitro, polymerization of one such ATPase, SopA of plasmid F, is inhibited by DNA, suggesting that interaction of SopA with the host nucleoid could regulate partition. In an attempt to identify amino acids in SopA that are needed for interaction with non-specific DNA, we have found that mutation of codon 340 (lysine to alanine) reduces ATP-dependent DNA binding > 100-fold and correspondingly diminishes SopA activities that depend on it: inhibition of polymer formation and persistence, stimulation of basal-level ATP hydrolysis and localization over the nucleoid. The K340A mutant retained all other SopA properties tested except plasmid stabilization; substitution of the mutant SopA for wild-type nearly abolished mini-F partition. The behaviour of this mutant indicates a causal link between interaction with the cell's non-specific DNA and promotion of the dynamic behaviour that ensures F plasmid partition.

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