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J Bacteriol. 1996 Apr;178(7):2086-93.

Characterization of the stable maintenance properties of the par region of broad-host-range plasmid RK2.

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1
Department of Biology and Center for Molecular Genetics, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California 92093-0634, USA.

Abstract

A 3.2-kb fragment encoding five genes, parCBA/DE, in two divergently transcribed operons promotes stable maintenance of the replicon of the broad-host-range plasmid RK2 in a vector-independent manner in Escherichia coli. The parDE operon has been shown to contribute to stabilization through the postsegregational killing of plasmid-free daughter cells, while the parCBA operon encodes a resolvase, ParA, that mediates the resolution of plasmid multimers through site-specific recombination. To date, evidence indicates that multimer resolution alone does not play a significant role in RK2 stable maintenance by the parCBA operon in E. coli. It has been proposed, instead, that the parCBA region encodes an additional stability mechanism, a partition system, that ensures that each daughter cell receives a plasmid copy at cell division. However, studies carried out to date have not directly determined the plasmid stabilization activity of the parCBA operon alone. An assessment was made of the relative contributions of postsegregational killing (parDE) and the putative partitioning system (parCBA) to the stabilization of mini-RK2 replicons in E. coli. Mini-RK2 replicons carrying either the entire 3.2-kb (parCBA/DE) fragment or the 2.3-kb parCBA region alone were found to be stably maintained in two E. coli strains tested. The stabilization found is not due to resolution of multimers. The stabilizing effectiveness of parCBA was substantially reduced when the plasmid copy number was lowered, as in the case of E. coli cells carrying a temperature-sensitive mini-RK2 replicon grown at a nonpermissive temperature. The presence of the entire 3.2-kb region effectively stabilized the replicon, however, under both low- and high-copy-number-conditions. In those instances of decreased plasmid copy number, the postsegregational killing activity, encoded by parDE, either as part of the 3.2-kb fragment or alone played the major role in the stabilization of mini-RK2 replicons within the growing bacterial population. Our findings indicate that the parCBA operon functions to stabilize by a mechanism other than cell killing and resolution of plasmid multimers, while the parDE operon functions solely to stabilize plasmids by cell killing. The relative contribution of each system to stabilization depends on plasmid copy number and the particular E. coli host.

PMID:
8606188
PMCID:
PMC177909
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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