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Archaea
Volume 1 (2004), Issue 4, Pages 231-239
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2004/151926
Research Article

Genomic comparison of archaeal conjugative plasmids from Sulfolobus

1Danish Archaea Centre, Institute of Molecular Biology, Copenhagen University, Sølvgade 83H, DK-1307 Copenhagen K, Denmark
2Max-Planck Institute für Biochemie, D-82152 Martinsried, Germany

Received 12 May 2004; Accepted 2 July 2004

Copyright © 2004 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

All of the known self-transmissable plasmids of the Archaea have been found in the genus Sulfolobus. To gain more insight into archaeal conjugative processes, four newly isolated self-transmissable plasmids, pKEF9, pHVE14, pARN3 and pARN4, were sequenced and subjected to a comparative sequence analysis with two earlier sequenced plasmids, pNOB8 and pING1. The analyses revealed three conserved and functionally distinct sections in the genomes. Section A is considered to encode the main components of the conjugative apparatus, where two genes show low but significant sequence similarity to sections of genes encoding bacterial conjugative proteins. A putative origin of replication is located in section B, which is highly conserved in sequence and contains several perfect and imperfect direct and inverted repeats. Further downstream, in section C, an operon encoding six to nine smaller proteins is implicated in the initiation and regulation of replication. Each plasmid carries an integrase gene of the type that does not partition on integration, and there is strong evidence for their integration into host chromosomes, where they may facilitate intercellular exchange of chromosomal genes. Two plasmids contain hexameric short regularly spaced repeats (SRSR), which have been implicated in plasmid maintenance, and each plasmid carries multiple recombination motifs, concentrated in the variable regions, which likely provide sites for genomic rearrangements.