Effect of Growth Rate and incC Mutation on Symmetric Plasmid Distribution by the IncP-1 Partitioning Apparatus

Mol Microbiol. 1999 Oct;34(2):205-16. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.1999.01565.x.


The incC and korB genes of IncP-1 plasmid RK2 encode homologues of ubiquitous ParA and ParB partitioning proteins of bacterial plasmids and chromosomes. Using immunofluorescence microscopy, we found that KorB, which binds to 12 widely distributed sites on the genome, is located in symmetrically placed foci in cells containing IncP-1 plasmids. When maintained by the low-copy-number P7 replicon, an RK2 segment including incC, korB and the kla, kle and korC regions encodes an efficient partitioning system that gives a pattern of foci similar to RK2 itself. Symmetrical distribution of KorB foci correlates with segregational stability conferred by either the IncP-1 or P7 partitioning systems; KorB distribution follows plasmid distribution. In the absence of a second partitioning system, incC inactivation resulted in paired or clumped foci that were not symmetrically distributed. At a slow growth rate, position analysis of foci showed a cycle from one central focus to two foci (at one- and three-quarter positions) and back, and at a high growth rate it showed a cycle from two foci to four and back. This pattern fits with the plasmid being coupled to the replication zones in the cell and being moved to successively younger zones by active partitioning, indicating a tight association between replication and partitioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Blotting, Western
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / growth & development*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Mutation
  • R Factors / genetics*
  • Rabbits
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • KorB protein, Plasmid RK2
  • Repressor Proteins
  • chromosome partition proteins, bacterial