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J Mol Biol. 1983 Sep 15;169(2):353-72.

Partition of unit-copy miniplasmids to daughter cells. I. P1 and F miniplasmids contain discrete, interchangeable sequences sufficient to promote equipartition.


Hybrids formed by insertion of the plasmid maintenance regions of P1 or F into a lambda delta att vector form stable unit-copy plasmids in their Escherichia coli host. They must therefore both be substrates for an accurate cellular partition apparatus that ensures that all daughter cells inherit a plasmid copy. Analysis of deletion mutants of both types of hybrid showed that, although the P1 and F plasmid maintenance regions differ in sequence and specificity, they are similar in general organization. Each contains an approximately 3 X 10(3) base-pair region that is essential for replication (rep) and an adjacent but separable 3 X 10(3) base-pair region that is essential for the stability of plasmid maintenance (par). Each par region is thought to specify the recognition of the plasmid as a substrate for equipartition. The deletion mutants provide sources of isolated rep and par sequences from both P1 and F DNA. These elements were then used to construct composite plasmids with novel combinations and arrangements of rep and par sequences. Heterologous constructions containing P1 rep and F par or F rep and P1 par sequences were maintained faithfully. We conclude that par regions are both necessary and sufficient to promote equipartition of replicating plasmid DNA. This activity is exerted only in cis but otherwise seems to be independent of the position or orientation of the par sequences within the DNA. Both P1 and F par regions include DNA sequences (incB of P1, incD of F) that we propose are analogues of the centromeres of eukaryotic chromosomes. The remaining portions of the par regions are known to encode protein products that, we believe, act at the inc sites. Extra copies of these inc sites appear to exert incompatibility by competition for the cellular partition apparatus.

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