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J Bacteriol. 1997 Jun;179(11):3670-5.

Plasmid maintenance functions of the large virulence plasmid of Shigella flexneri.

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Gene Regulation and Chromosome Biology Laboratory, ABL-Basic Research Program, NCI-Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, Maryland 21702-1201, USA.


The large virulence plasmid pMYSH6000 of Shigella flexneri contains a replicon and a plasmid maintenance stability determinant (Stb) on adjacent SalI fragments. The presence of a RepFIIA replicon on the SalI C fragment was confirmed, and the complete sequence of the adjacent SalI O fragment was determined. It shows homology to part of the transfer (tra) operon of the F plasmid. Stb stabilizes a partition-defective P1 miniplasmid in Escherichia coli. A 1.1-kb region containing a homolog of the F trbH gene was sufficient to confer stability. However, the trbH open reading frame could be interrupted without impairing stability. Deletion analysis implicated the involvement of two small open reading frames, STBORF1 and STBORF2, that fully overlap trbH in the opposite direction. These open reading frames are closely related to the vagC and vagD genes of the Salmonella dublin virulence plasmid and to open reading frame pairs in the F trbH region and in the chromosomes of Dichelobacter nodosus and Haemophilus influenzae. Stb appears to promote better-than-random distribution of plasmid copies and is a plasmid incompatibility determinant. The F homolog does not itself confer stability but exerts incompatibility against the activity of the Stb system. Stb is likely to encode either an active partition system or a postsegregational killing system. It shows little similarity to previously studied plasmid stability loci, but the genetic organization of STBORF1 and STBORF2 resembles that of postsegregational killing mechanisms.

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