The kfrA gene is the first in a tricistronic operon required for survival of IncP-1 plasmid R751

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Colleges, School and Institutes


The kfrA gene of the IncP-1 broad-host-range plasmids is the best-studied member of a growing gene family that shows strong linkage to the minimal replicon of many low-copy-number plasmids. KfrA is a DNA binding protein with a long, alpha-helical, coiled-coil tail. Studying IncP-1 beta plasmid R751, evidence is presented that kfrA and its downstream genes upf54.8 and upf54.4 were organized in a tricistronic operon (renamed here kfrA kfrB kfrC), expressed from autoregulated kfrAp, that was also repressed by KorA and KorB. KfrA, KfrB and KfrC interacted and may have formed a multi-protein complex. Inactivation of either kfrA or kfrB in R751 resulted in long-term accumulation of plasmid-negative bacteria, whereas wild-type R751 itself persisted without selection. Immunofluorescence studies showed that KfrA(R751) formed plasmid-associated foci, and deletion of the C terminus of KfrA caused plasmid R751 Delta C(2)kfrA foci to disperse and mislocalize. Thus, the KfrABC complex may be an important component in the organization and control of the plasmid clusters that seem to form the segregating unit in bacterial cells. The studied operon is therefore part of the set of functions needed for R751 to function as an efficient vehicle for maintenance and spread of genes in Gram-negative bacteria.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1621-1637
Number of pages17
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2006