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J Mol Biol. 1996 May 10;258(3):447-56.

Distribution of restriction enzyme recognition sequences on broad host range plasmid RP4: molecular and evolutionary implications.

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Department of Genetics, University of Leicester, England.


IncP alpha plasmids, exemplified by RP4, are remarkable for their broad host range. They contain strikingly few cleavage sites for many commonly used type II restriction enzymes but an overabundance of sites for certain enzymes that target G + C-rich sequences. To identify factors responsible for these distributions, the recently compiled nucleotide sequence of RP4 was analysed to determine the frequency of tetra- and hexanucleotide motifs in the 49 kb plasmid backbone. This is defined as the sectors encoding basic plasmid functions. The overabundant restriction targets in RP4 are concentrated in the backbone and contain overlapping copies of CGGC/GCCG, identified as the most abundant tetranucleotide motif in the plasmid. Motif frequencies in the RP4 backbone are shown to be similar to those in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a natural host of RP4, with the notable exception that a number of 6-bp palindromes are underrepresented in the plasmid. It is proposed that 6-bp palindromes were counterselected as type II restriction enzyme recognition sequences. Conjugative transfer of RP4 and R751 (IncP beta) is unusually sensitive to restriction compared to enterobacterial plasmids of the IncFII and IncI1 groups, implying that IncP plasmids experienced particularly strong selection for loss of restriction targets. Pseudomonas spp. of rRNA homology group I specify many type II restriction enzymes that target 6-bp palindromes and are candidates for the evolutionary hosts of IncP alpha plasmids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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