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Mol Microbiol. 1997 Sep;25(6):1023-30.

Altered ParA partition proteins of plasmid P1 act via the partition site to block plasmid propagation.

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ABL-Basic Research Program, NCI-Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, MD 21702-1201, USA.


The partition system of the P1 plasmid, P1par, consists of the ParA and ParB proteins and a cis-acting site, parS. It is responsible for the orderly segregation of plasmid copies to daughter cells. Plasmids with null mutations in parA or parB replicate normally, but missegregate. ParB binds specifically to the parS site, but the role of ParA and its ATPase activity in partition is unclear. We describe a novel class of parA mutants that cannot be established or maintained as plasmids unless complemented by the wild-type gene. One, parAM314l, is conditional: it can be maintained in cells in minimal medium but cannot be established in cells growing in L broth. The lack of plasmid propagation in L broth-grown cells was shown to be caused by a ParB-dependent activity of the mutant ParA protein that blocks plasmid propagation by an interaction at the parS site. Thus, ParA acts to modify the ParB-parS complex, probably by binding to it. Partition is thought to involve selection of pairs of plasmids before segregation, either by physical pairing of copies or by binding of copies to paired host sites. We suggest that ParA is involved in this reaction and that the mutant ParA protein forms paired complexes that cannot unpair.

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