Comparative sequence and functional analysis of pT181 and pC221, cognate plasmid replicons from Staphylococcus aureus

Steven J. Projan, John Kornblum, Soraya L. Moghazeh, Irit Edelman, Maria L. Gennaro, Richard P. Novick

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The nucleotide sequence of pC221, a 4.6 kb Staphylococcus aureus plasmid is presented. The replication region of the plsmid is identified and compared with the corresponding region of pT181, a compatible but related plasmid. Both plasmids encode trans-active replicon-specific initiator proteins, RepC for pT181 and RepD for pC221. Plasmid replication rate is controlled by regulation of the rate of synthesis of the inititator protein by means of inhibitory 5′ countertranscripts. Key elements of the control system are closely conserved between the two plasmids whereas less critical elements show extensive divergence. Overall architecture is also conserved, suggesting functional parallelism. The replication origin for both plasmids is contained within the N-terminal region of the initiator protein coding sequence; the two coding sequences are highly homologous but have two important areas of divergence, one within the origin region, the other near the C-terminus. In vivo recombinants between the two plasmids isolated previously (Iordanescu 1979) have crossover points within the initiator gene, between the two divergent regions. The recombinant plasmids have hybrid initiator proteins and are defective for replication, requiring the simulaneous presence of the parental plasmid from which their origin is derived. They are able to complement replication-defective mutants of the other parental plasmid, suggesting that the recognition specificity of the hybrid initiator protein resides in its C-terminal end and that the specific recognition site for the protein corresponds to the divergent region within the origin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-464
Number of pages13
JournalMGG Molecular & General Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1985

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Genetics


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