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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Apr 12;108(15):6199-204. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1013244108. Epub 2011 Mar 28.

Transition from a plasmid to a chromosomal mode of replication entails additional regulators.

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Laboratory of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Center for Cancer Research, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Plasmid origins of replication are rare in bacterial chromosomes, except in multichromosome bacteria. The replication origin of Vibrio cholerae chromosome II (chrII) closely resembles iteron-bearing plasmid origins. Iterons are repeated initiator binding sites in plasmid origins and participate both in replication initiation and its control. The control is mediated primarily by coupling of iterons via the bound initiators ("handcuffing"), which causes steric hindrance to the origin. The control in chrII must be different, since the timing of its replication is cell cycle-specific, whereas in plasmids it is random. Here we show that chrII uses, in addition to iterons, another kind of initiator binding site, named 39-mers. The 39-mers confer stringent control by increasing handcuffing of iterons, presumably via initiator remodeling. Iterons, although potential inhibitors of replication themselves, restrain the 39-mer-mediated inhibition, possibly by direct coupling ("heterohandcuffing"). We propose that the presumptive transition of a plasmid to a chromosomal mode of control requires additional regulators to increase the stringency of control, and as will be discussed, to gain the capacity to modulate the effectiveness of the regulators at different stages of the cell cycle.

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