A 5-kbp region of pAD1, previously shown to be capable of supporting replication, copy control, and stable inheritance of the plasmid, was cloned into a replicon probe vector and subjected to transposon insertional mutagenesis. Transposon inserts identifying essential replication, copy control, and stability functions were isolated. Deletion of stability functions not essential for replication resulted in delimitation of a basic replicon. The complete DNA sequence of this approximately 3-kbp region and the precise positions of several transposon inserts were determined, and the phenotypic effects of the transposon inserts were correlated with the physical locations of individual determinants. The following three genes, apparently involved in plasmid maintenance, were identified; repA, which encodes a protein required for replication; repB, which encodes a protein involved in copy control; and repC, which may be involved in stable inheritance. In addition, two clusters of repeats composed of a consensus sequence, TAGTARRR, were identified, one located between the divergently transcribed repA and repB genes and another located downstream of repC. The region between repA and repB contained 25 repeats divided into two subregions of 13 and 12 repeats separated by 78 bp. The region located downstream of repC contained only three repeats but may be essential for plasmid replication, since deletion of this determinant resulted in loss of ability to replicate in Enterococcus faecalis. We hypothesize that the repeat units represent protein-binding sites required for assembly of the replisome and control of plasmid copy number. Another region of unrelated repeat units that may also be involved in replication is located within the repA gene. Possible mechanisms of action of these determinants are discussed
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