Isolation of a new broad-host-range IncQ-like plasmid, pTC-F14, from the acidophilic bacterium Acidithiobacillus caldus and analysis of the plasmid replicon

Gardner M.N. ; Deane S.M. ; Rawlings D.E. (2001)


A moderately thermophilic (45 to 50°C), highly acidophilic (pH 1.5 to 2.5), chemolithotrophic Acidithiobacillus caldus strain, f, was isolated from a biooxidation process used to treat nickel ore. Trans-alternating field electrophoresis analysis of total DNA from the A. caldus cells revealed two plasmids of approximately 14 and 45 kb. The 14-kb plasmid, designated pTC-F14, was cloned and shown by replacement of the cloning vector with a kanamycin resistance gene to be capable of autonomous replication in Escherichia coli. Autonomous replication was also demonstrated in Pseudomonas putida and Agrobacterium tumefaciens LBA 4404, which suggested that pTC-F14 is a broad-host-range plasmid. Sequence analysis of the pTC-F14 replicon region revealed five open reading frames and a replicon organization like that of the broad-host-range IncQ plasmids. Three of the open reading frames encoded replication proteins which were most closely related to those of IncQ-like plasmid pTF-FC2 (amino acid sequence identities: RepA, 81%; RepB, 78%; RepC, 74%). However, the two plasmids were fully compatible and pTC-F14 represents a new IncQ-like plasmid replicon. Surprisingly, asymmetrical incompatibility was found with the less closely related IncQ plasmid R300B derivative pKE462 and the IncQ-like plasmid derivative pIE1108. Analysis of the pTC-F14 oriV region revealed five direct repeats consisting of three perfectly conserved 22-bp iterons flanked by iterons of 23 and 21 bp. Plasmid pTC-F14 had a copy number of 12 to 16 copies per chromosome in both E. coli, and A. caldus. The rep gene products of pTC-F14 and pTF-FC2 were unable to functionally complement each other's oriV regions, but replication occurred when the genes for each plasmid's own RepA, RepB, and RepC proteins were provided in trans. TWo smaller open reading frames were found between the repB and repA genes of pTC-F14, which encode proteins with high amino acid sequence identity (PasA, 81%; PasB, 72%) to the plasmid addiction system of pTF-FC2. This is the second time a plasmid stability system of this type has been found on an IncQ-like plasmid.

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