Plasmid rolling circle replication: identification of the RNA polymerase-directed primer RNA and requirement for DNA polymerase I for lagging strand synthesis

EMBO J. 1997 Sep 15;16(18):5784-95. doi: 10.1093/emboj/16.18.5784.


Plasmid rolling circle replication involves generation of single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) intermediates. ssDNA released after leading strand synthesis is converted to a double-stranded form using solely host proteins. Most plasmids that replicate by the rolling circle mode contain palindromic sequences that act as the single strand origin, sso. We have investigated the host requirements for the functionality of one such sequence, ssoA, from the streptococcal plasmid pLS1. We used a new cell-free replication system from Streptococcus pneumoniae to investigate whether host DNA polymerase I was required for lagging strand synthesis. Extracts from DNA polymerase I-deficient cells failed to replicate, but this was corrected by adding purified DNA polymerase I. Efficient DNA synthesis from the pLS1-ssoA required the entire DNA polymerase I (polymerase and 5'-3' exonuclease activities). ssDNA containing the pLS1-ssoA was a substrate for specific RNA polymerase binding and a template for RNA polymerase-directed synthesis of a 20 nucleotide RNA primer. We constructed mutations in two highly conserved regions within the ssoA: a six nucleotide conserved sequence and the recombination site B. Our results show that the former seemed to function as a terminator for primer RNA synthesis, while the latter may be a binding site for RNA polymerase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • DNA Polymerase I / metabolism*
  • DNA Replication*
  • DNA, Single-Stranded / metabolism
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases / metabolism*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Models, Structural
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed
  • Nucleic Acid Conformation
  • Plasmids / biosynthesis*
  • Plasmids / chemistry
  • Promoter Regions, Genetic*
  • RNA / metabolism*
  • RNA, Bacterial / metabolism
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / genetics
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / metabolism*


  • DNA, Single-Stranded
  • RNA primers
  • RNA, Bacterial
  • RNA
  • DNA-Directed RNA Polymerases
  • DNA Polymerase I