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Plasmids with a Chromosome-Like Role in Rhizobia ▿ †

By Cristina Landeta, Araceli Dávalos, Miguel Ángel Cevallos, Otto Geiger, Susana Brom and David Romero


Replicon architecture in bacteria is commonly comprised of one indispensable chromosome and several dispensable plasmids. This view has been enriched by the discovery of additional chromosomes, identified mainly by localization of rRNA and/or tRNA genes, and also by experimental demonstration of their requirement for cell growth. The genome of Rhizobium etli CFN42 is constituted by one chromosome and six large plasmids, ranging in size from 184 to 642 kb. Five of the six plasmids are dispensable for cell viability, but plasmid p42e is unusually stable. One possibility to explain this stability would be that genes on p42e carry out essential functions, thus making it a candidate for a secondary chromosome. To ascertain this, we made an in-depth functional analysis of p42e, employing bioinformatic tools, insertional mutagenesis, and programmed deletions. Nearly 11% of the genes in p42e participate in primary metabolism, involving biosynthetic functions (cobalamin, cardiolipin, cytochrome o, NAD, and thiamine), degradation (asparagine and melibiose), and septum formation (minCDE). Synteny analysis and incompatibility studies revealed highly stable replicons equivalent to p42e in content and gene order in other Rhizobium species. A systematic deletion analysis of p42e allowed the identification of two genes (RHE_PE00001 and RHE_PE00024), encoding, respectively, a hypothetical protein with a probable winged helix-turn-helix motif and a probable two-component sensor histidine kinase/response regulator hybrid protein, which are essential for growth in rich medium. These data support the proposal that p42e and its homologous replicons (pA, pRL11, pRLG202, and pR132502) merit the status of secondary chromosomes

Topics: Bacteriophages, Transposons, and Plasmids
Publisher: American Society for Microbiology (ASM)
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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