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J Bacteriol. 1988 Feb;170(2):852-8.

Coordination of chromosome replication initiation in Escherichia coli: effects of different dnaA alleles.

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Department of Biophysics, Norwegian Radium Hospital, Oslo.


The synchrony of initiation of chromosomal replication in single cells was determined in ten different dnaA(Ts) mutants. After inhibiting the initiation of replication but allowing initiated rounds of replication to terminate, we measured the number of fully replicated chromosomes per individual cell by flow cytometry. Synchronous initiation at the several independent origins (oriC) in single rapidly growing cells would give 2'' (n = 0,1,2,3,...) chromosomes per cell, whereas asynchronous initiation was indicated by the presence of a different number of chromosomes. Mutations mapping in the central part of the dnaA gene (dnaA5, dnaA46, dnaA601, dnaA602, and dnaA604) lead to a high degree of asynchrony (class I mutants), whereas mutations mapping in either of the distal parts of the gene (dnaA508, dnaA167, dnaA203, and dnaA204) yielded a low degree of asynchrony at the permissive temperature (class 2 mutants). The dnaA205 mutant exhibited an intermediate degree of asynchrony. Mutants dnaA203 and dnaA204 (promoter distal) differed from the other class 2 mutants (dnaA167, dnaA508; promoter proximal) in that asynchrony increased no more than twofold between 25 and 37 degrees C compared with the more-than-fourfold increase in the latter. The high degree of asynchrony in class 1 mutants was independent of temperature and was not due to insufficient functional DnaA protein, because overproduction of DnaA46 protein did not decrease the asynchrony. The data demonstrate that the DnaA protein has functions in addition to acting positively in the initiation process and negatively as its own repressor, namely in coordinating initiations at all oriC sites within a single cell.

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