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Extremophiles. 1998 Nov;2(4):417-25.

Genetic profile of pNOB8 from Sulfolobus: the first conjugative plasmid from an archaeon.

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Institute of Molecular Biology, Copenhagen University, Denmark.


The complete nucleotide sequence of the archaeal conjugative plasmid, pNOB8, from the Sulfolobus isolate NOB8-H2, was determined. The plasmid is 41,229 bp in size and contains about 50 ORFs. Several direct sequence repeats are present, the largest of which is a perfect 85-bp repeat and a site of intraplasmid recombination in foreign Sulfolobus hosts. This recombination event produces a major deletion variant, pNOB8-33, which is not stably maintained. Less than 20% of the ORFs could be assigned putative functions after extensive database searches. Tandem ORFs 315 and 470, within the deleted 8-kb region, show significant sequence similarity to the protein superfamilies of ParA (whole protein) and ParB (N-terminal half), respectively, that are important for plasmid and chromosome partitioning in bacteria. A putative cis-acting element is also present that exhibits six 24-mer repeats containing palindromic sequences which are separated by 39 or 42 bp. By analogy with bacterial systems, this element may confer plasmid incompatibility and define a group of incompatible plasmids in Archaea. Although several ORFs can form putative trans-membrane or membrane-binding segments, only two ORFs show significant sequence similarity to bacterial conjugative proteins. ORF630b aligns with the TrbE protein superfamily, which contributes to mating pair formation in Bacteria, while ORF1025 aligns with the TraG protein superfamily. We infer that the conjugative mechanism for Sulfolobus differs considerably from known bacterial mechanisms. Finally, two transposases were detected; ORF413 is flanked by an imperfect 32-bp inverted repeat with a 5-bp direct repeat at the ends, and ORF406 is very similar in sequence to an insertion element identified in the Sulfolobus solfataricus P2 genome.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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