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J Mol Biol. 1997 Mar 7;266(4):688-702.

The mobilization protein, MobM, of the streptococcal plasmid pMV158 specifically cleaves supercoiled DNA at the plasmid oriT.

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Centro de Investigaciones Biológicas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas Velázquez, Madrid, Spain.


The streptococcal plasmid pMV158 replicates by the rolling circle mechanism. It encodes a relaxase protein of 494 residues, termed MobM, involved in conjugative mobilization. MobM protein was overproduced, purified, and shown specifically to relax supercoiled pMV158 DNA. The 5'-end and the 3'-end of the nick site introduced by MobM have been determined by sequencing and by primer extension analysis. The nucleophilic attack exerted by MobM is in the 5'-GpT-3' dinucleotide, within the sequence 5'-TAGTGTG/TTA-3'. Upon cleavage, MobM protein remains tightly associated with its target DNA, probably through a covalent bond. The pMV158 oriT did not exhibit homologies with known origins of transfer of plasmids from Gram-negative bacteria. However, several plasmids from Gram-positive hosts have a region identical or very similar to the pMV158 oriT. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of a relaxase activity of a mobilization protein from a plasmid replicating by the rolling circle mechanism.

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