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Plasmid. 1988 May;19(3):203-21.

Comparative analysis of five related Staphylococcal plasmids.

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Public Health Research Institute, New York, New York 10016.


The genomic organization of five small multicopy staphylococcal plasmids comprising the pT181 family has been analyzed. In addition to pT181, the family presently includes the streptomycin resistance plasmid pS194 and the chloramphenicol resistance plasmids pC221, pC223, and pUB112. Although they belong to five different incompatibility groups, the five plasmids have similar basic replicons, use the same basic copy control mechanism, and have a common structural organization. It has been demonstrated previously that pT181 and pC221 encode trans-active replication proteins (RepC and RepD, respectively) which specifically recognize the respective plasmid's origin of replication in both cases is initiated by site-specific nicking and 3' extension. The other three plasmids in this family encode similar replication proteins; 63% of the predicted amino acid residues are identical for all five and the least similar pair shows 75% identity at the amino acid level. However, despite this homology, the replication proteins and origins of replication of different members in this family did not show cross complementation in vivo. Outside of the basic replicon, which comprises about one-third of each plasmid's genome, functional organization is also conserved. The resistance determinants are all located in the same position, immediately downstream of the replication protein coding sequence, and all are transcribed in the same direction. The three chloramphenicol resistance determinants encode highly homologous chloramphenicol transacetylases which are unrelated to the tet and str gene products. Three of the five plasmids form relaxation complexes and the involved genome segments are closely related. The other two are not homologous to these three in the corresponding region, but are homologous to each other and encode a site-specific recombinase, Pre. It is suggested that the replication, resistance, and relaxation complex regions of these plasmids can be regarded as conserved segments ("cassettes") assembled in various combinations, but always with the same spatial arrangement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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