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J Mol Biol. 1994 Mar 11;236(5):1299-309.

Partitioning of plasmid R1. The parA operon is autoregulated by ParR and its transcription is highly stimulated by a downstream activating element.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Odense University, Denmark.


The parA partitioning system of plasmid R1 mediates efficient stabilization of R1 and F-derived replicons. The parA system is encoded by a continuous DNA segment of approximately 1600 base-pairs and consists of three components. Two adjacent genes, parM and parR, coding for the trans-acting proteins ParM and ParR, and the cis-acting parC site. The centromere-like parC site is located upstream of parM and parR and contains the parA promoter. The parM and parR genes are co-transcribed as an operon from the parA promoter. The 5' end of the parA encoded transcript was mapped to the center of the parC region at +115. The -10 and -35 core promoter sequences are flanked by the two sets of five direct repeats in parC (the ParR boxes). The parA promoter was found to be negatively regulated by the parR gene product, whereas the parM gene product seemingly was not involved in the regulation. Surprisingly, a region downstream of the parA promoter enhanced transcription from the promoter many-fold (30 to 50-fold). The parC site titrated the ParR protein, suggesting that the ParR protein interacts directly with the parC site. Using an engineered parA system we found that the parC site could be complemented in cis by the parM and parR genes. Furthermore, the proper function of the parC site was highly dependent on the expression level of ParM and ParR. The incompatibility associated with the parC site could not be suppressed by overexpression of the ParM and ParR proteins. Based on these results we suggest a novel partition model involving pairing of newly replicated plasmid molecules.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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