We report evidence indicating that Fis protein plays a role in initiation of replication at oriC in vivo. At high temperatures, fis null mutants form filamentous cells, show aberrant nucleoid segregation, and are unable to form single colonies. DNA synthesis is inhibited in these fis mutant strains following upshift to 44 degrees C. The pattern of DNA synthesis inhibition upon temperature upshift and the requirement for RNA synthesis, but not protein synthesis, for resumed DNA synthesis upon downshift to 32 degrees C indicate that synthesis is affected in the initiation phase. fis mutations act synergistically with gyrB alleles known to affect initiation. oriC-dependent plasmids are poorly established and maintained in fis mutant strains. Finally, purified Fis protein interacts in vitro with sites in oriC. These interactions could be involved in mediating the effect of Fis on DNA synthesis in vivo
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