Partitioning of plasmid R1 in Escherichia coli. I. Kinetics of loss of plasmid derivatives deleted of the par region

Plasmid. 1980 Sep;4(2):215-27. doi: 10.1016/0147-619x(80)90011-6.


The stability of inheritance of plasmid R1drd-19 was tested. The copy number of the plasmid was determined in two different ways: As the ratio between covalently closed circular DNA and chromosomal DNA, and by quantitative determination of single-cell resistance to ampicillin. In the latter case, strains carrying the R1 ampicillin transposon Tn3 on prophage lambda was used as standard. The values were transformed to copy number per cell by using the Cooper-Helmstetter model for chromosome replication as well as by determination of chromosomal DNA per cell by the diphenylamine method. The copy number was found to be five to six per cell (or about four per newborn cell). Nevertheless, plasmid R1drd-19 was found to be completely stably inherited. This stability was shown not to be due to retransfer of the plasmid by the R1 conjugation system, since transfer-negative derivatives of the plasmid were also completely stably inherited. Smaller derivatives of plasmid R1drd-19 were found to be lost at a frequency of about 1.5% per cell generation. The copy-number control was not affected in these miniplasmids, since their copy numbers were the same as that of the full size plasmid. Quantitatively, the instability of the miniplasmids was in accord with random partitioning. It is, therefore, suggested that the plasmid R1drd-19 carries genetic information for partitioning (par) of plasmid copies at cell division, and that the par mechanism is distinct from the copy number control (cop) system. Finally, the par gene maps on the resistance transfer part of the plasmid, but far away from the origin of replication and the so-called basic replicon; this is in accord with the approximate location of the repB gene (Yoshikawa, 1974, J. Bacteriol., 118, 1123-1131).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cell Division
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • DNA, Circular / analysis
  • Escherichia coli / genetics*
  • Kinetics
  • Plasmids*
  • Replicon


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • DNA, Circular