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EMBO J. 1988 Oct;7(10):3279-88.

Control of replication of plasmid R1: kinetics of in vitro interaction between the antisense RNA, CopA, and its target, CopT.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Uppsala, Sweden.


The frequency of replication of IncFII plasmids is regulated by the availability of a rate-limiting protein, RepA. This protein acts to promote initiation of replication and its synthesis is negatively controlled both at the transcriptional and translational level. The translational control is exerted by the binding of a small antisense RNA, CopA RNA, to its target, CopT, which is located in the leader region of the RepA mRNA. As a consequence, formation of RepA is inhibited. Here we demonstrate the binding of CopA RNA to CopT RNA in vitro; the rate constant of binding was determined to be approximately 1 X 10(6) M-1 s-1 at 37 degrees C. We have also shown that in vitro synthesized RepA mRNA molecules differing in length, but which contain the whole CopT region, are able to bind CopA RNA with similar rates. Analysis of the binding of CopA/CopT molecules derived from a copy-number mutant plasmid showed that the effect of the mutation on the rate of in vitro binding correlates well with its phenotypic effect in vivo, i.e. the binding rate constant is lowered in proportion to the increase in copy number. Likewise, the result of an in vitro incompatibility test is in agreement with in vivo data.

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