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Comparison of the organisation of the genomes of phenotypically diverse plasmids of incompatibility group P: members of the IncPβ sub-group are closely related

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Comparison of physical maps of the broad host range plasmids R751, R906 and R772, belonging to the IncPβ sub-group of the Escherichia coli incompatibility group P, reveals two large regions of similarity, separated by dissimilar regions which contain the majority of the cleavage sites for restriction endonucleases with hexanucleotide recognition sites. Mapping of the regions of these plasmids which show homology to probes specific for genetically characterised segments of the distantly related IncPα plasmid RK2, involved in plasmid maintenance or conjugal transfer, reveals that all four plasmids share a similar genetic organisation. In each case the homologous plasmid back-bone is interrupted by heterologous segments both between the essential replication loci oriV and trfA, and between the conjugal transfer regions tra1 and tra2, although in the case of R772 the segment of the backbone carrying the trfA and tra2 regions is inverted relative to that of the other plasmids. However, in the case of pJP4, shown to be a fourth member of the IncPβ sub-group, the back-bone is interrupted only by a single large segment adjacent to the trfA region. Mapping of the regions of the four IncPβ plasmids which show homology to Tn501 and nucleotide sequence determination at the ends of the homologous regions reveals that R906, R772 and pJP4 share a common mercury resistance region. This region, which appears to have been inactivated in R772, was probably inserted into a common ancestor of these plasmids by the transposition of an element related to an ancestor of Tn501. R751 shows no trace of the mercury resistance region, but contains a short relict of Tn501, derived from an independent insertion event.

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Correspondence to Christopher M. Thomas.

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Communicated by J. Schell

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Smith, C.A., Thomas, C.M. Comparison of the organisation of the genomes of phenotypically diverse plasmids of incompatibility group P: members of the IncPβ sub-group are closely related. Mol Gen Genet 206, 419–427 (1987). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00428881

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Key words

  • IncP, plasmids
  • Plasmids RK2, R906, pJP4, R772, R751
  • Plasmid evolution
  • Mercury resistance