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Nature. 1987 Jul 30-Aug 5;328(6129):454-6.

Giant linear plasmids in Streptomyces which code for antibiotic biosynthesis genes.


A number of examples of circular plasmids with specific functions are known in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes. Several linear plasmids have also been identified, but these are all relatively small: large linear plasmids cannot be separated from chromosomal DNA by conventional techniques. There are several cases where the genetic evidence suggests that a character is encoded by a plasmid but no plasmid can be physically detected. This has been the case for antibiotic synthesis genes in Streptomyces; in particular a plasmid SCP1 in Streptomyces coelicolor has been shown to be involved in methylenomycin production by genetic evidence. We report here the application of orthogonal-field-alternation gel electrophoresis to the isolation of linear plasmids from Streptomyces. We have discovered a large linear plasmid of around 520 kilobases in Streptomyces lasaliensis and subsequently similar giant linear plasmids in other Streptomyces strains. We have confirmed that genes for methylenomycin biosynthesis are located on a series of giant linear plasmids in S. coelicolor. These observations may bear on the genetic variability and unstable genetic character of Streptomyces species.

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