Streptomyces lividans ISP 5434 contains four small high copy number plasmids: pIJ101 (8.9 kb), pIJ102 (4.0 kb), pIJ103 (3.9 kb) and pIJ104 (4.9 kb). The three smaller species appear to be naturally occurring deletion variants of pIJ101. pIJ101 and its in vivo and in vitro derivatives were studied after transformation into S. lividans 66.
pIJ101 was found to be self-transmissible by conjugation, to elicit “lethal zygosis” and to promote chromosomal recombination at high frequency in both S. lividans 66 and S. coelicolor A3(2). A restriction endonuclease cleavage map of pIJ101 was constructed for 11 endonucleases; sites for five others were lacking. Many variants of pIJ101 were constructed in vitro by inserting DNA fragments determining resistance to neomycin, thiostrepton or viomycin, and having BamHI termini, into MboI or BclI sites on the plasmid, sometimes with deletion of segments of plasmid DNA. The physical maps of these plasmids were related to their phenotypes in respect of lethal zygosis and transfer properties. In vivo recombination tests between pairs of variant plasmids were also done. These physical and genetic studies indicated that determinants of conjugal transfer occupy less than 2.1 kb of the plasmid. A second segment is required for spread of the plasmid within a plasmid-free culture to produce the normal lethal zygosis phenotype: insertion of foreign DNA in this region caused a marked reduction in the diameter of lethal zygosis zones. The minimum replicon was deduced to be 2.1 kb or less in size; adjacent to this region is a 0.5 kb segment which may be required for stable inheritance of the plasmid. The copy number of several derivatives of pIJ101 in S. lividans 66 was between 40 and 300 per chromosome and appeared to vary with the age or physiological state of the culture. pIJ101 derivatives have a wide host range within the genus Streptomyces: 13 out of 18 strains, of diverse species, were successfully transformed.
Knowledge of dispensable DNA segments and the availability of restriction sites for the insertion of DNA, deduced from the properties of plasmids carrying the E. coli plasmid pACYC184 introduced at various sites, was used in the construction of several derivatives of pIJ101 suitable as DNA cloning vectors. These were mostly designed to be non-conjugative and to carry pairs of resistance genes for selection. They include a bifunctional shuttle vector for E. coli and Streptomyces; a Streptomyces viomycin resistance gene of this plasmid is expressed in both hosts.