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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1983 Aug;80(15):4784-8.

Mini-F plasmid genes that couple host cell division to plasmid proliferation.


A mechanism for stable maintenance of plasmids, besides the replication and partition mechanisms, has been found to be specified by genes of a mini-F plasmid. An oriC plasmid carrying both a mini-F segment necessary for partition [coordinates 46.4-49.4 kilobase pairs (kb) on the F map] and another segment (42.9-43.6 kb), designated ccd (coupled cell division), is more stably maintained than are oriC plasmids carrying only the partition segment; the stability is comparable to that of the parental mini-F plasmid. When replication of a plasmid carrying ccd is prevented and the plasmid copy number decreases, to as few as one per cell, host cell division is inhibited, but not increase of turbidity or chromosome replication. Appearance of plasmid-free segregants is therefore effectively prevented under such conditions. Experimental results suggest that reduction of the copy number of plasmids carrying the ccd region causes an inhibition of cell division and that the ccd region can be dissected into two functional regions; one (ccdB) inhibits cell division and the other (ccdA) releases the inhibition. The interplay of the ccdA and ccdB genes promotes stable plasmid maintenance by coupling host cell division to plasmid proliferation.

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