The prgB gene of the Enterococcus faecalis pheromone-inducible conjugative plasmid pCF10 encodes the surface protein Asc10. This protein mediates cell aggregation and its expression results in high-frequency transfer of the plasmid from donor to recipient. To identify the minimum region necessary for negative regulation of prgB expression, target plasmids were constructed containing a recently identified positive control region and a prgB: :lacZ transcriptional fusion; expression of prgB in cells carrying these plasmids was thus verified by β-galactosidase assay. The target plasmids were used in genetic studies with compatible plasmids containing cloned pCF10 genes supplying putative negative control functions to define the minimum region of pCF10 required for shutdown of prgB expression in the absence of exogenous pheromone. The minimum segment required for negative control, as identified by deletion analysis, was a 6.9-kb region extending from the 5′ end of a gene called prgN, through a previously identified gene, prgX. The DNA in this region, which had not been previously characterized (2.85 kb), was sequenced, and several potential regulatory genes and plasmid replication genes were identified. Genetic analysis indicated that the prgN, -Y, and -X genes are involved in negative control; prgW may also play a role in negative control, since it appeared to be required for expression of prgY. prgX, or a closely adjacent DNA sequence, acted in cis. The region of pCF10 containing negative control genes was also shown to function as an autonomous replicon in E. faecalis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank Tammy Abbott, Jennifer Willner, and Dawn Manias for excellent technical assistance. This work was supported by PHS Grants GM49530 to G.M.D. and AI108742 to B.A.B.L. from the NIH and by the Institute for Advanced Studies in Biological Process Technology.
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