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Pleiotropic effect of DnaA gene on initiation of DNA replication and cell division in Escherichia coli Khachatourians, George


Cell duplication in Escherichia coli involves complex events, coordinated with chromosome replication. Because of the importance of chromosomes in perpetuating the normal cell cycle the initiation of their replication must be coordinated with cellular division. Following initiation, the cell must replicate and segregate its chromosomes, create a site necessary for septation and divide. These events could be coordinated by either; (1) biochemical reactions involving diffusible enzymes, or (2) multienzyme complexes which are localized at the site of DNA replication and cell division. In the latter case, the cyclic events of replication, segregation and cell division may be coordinated by physical-chemica1 or biochemical means. In any case, physical association implies pleiotropic effects. To test this hypothesis, cell division of the initiator mutant of E. coli , isolated by Kohiyama (1968) was studied. The temperature-sensitive initiator mutant E. coli CR 34T83 (ts DnaA) grew normally at 30 C, and at the restrictive temperature (42 C). The DNA replication as measured by radioactive precursor uptake, stopped after approximately 40 minutes and was equivalent to completion of rounds of replication started. Measurement of ribo- and deoxyribonucleotide triphosphate pools by thin-layer chromatography at 30 C and 42 C indicated residual DNA synthesis was not due to a limitation in the DNA precursors. Using a combination of density and differential radioactive labelling for the starts and ends of chromosomes, a preferred place for reinitiation of new replication cycles was shown. It was shown that DNA replication at 42 C terminated at a fixed region of the chromosome, and was identical to the 150 μg/ml chloramphenicol sensitive step involved in the process of initiation of chromosome replication in E. coli. A cessation of cellular division was noted by measurement of cell growth by Coulter Counter, at a shift from 30 C to 42 C, resulting in filamentous growth. Upon a return to 30 C, the cells resume division after approximately 15 - 20 min. The pleiotropic behaviour, that is, the cessation of cell division and initiation of DNA replication was a result of a point mutation in the gene DnaA, coding for a membrane bound protein involved in initiation. This mutation was mapped by transduction and was located at the isoleucine-valine region of the E. coli map. When this gene was transduced to different strains of E. coli K(12) the same pleiotropy was observed. This pleiotropy could be uncoupled, however, at 30 C by inhibitors of DNA synthesis or initiation. During recovery at 30 C from growth under 42 C, expression of cell division was proportional to cell equivalents generated at the restrictive temperature. RNA and protein synthesis, for 10 minutes during the recovery period, was obligatory for initiation of new rounds of replication, but not for the expression of cell division. A cell division "potential" protein was present under the restrictive growth condition. This "potential" was made at a derepressed rate and underwent a rapid degradation if kept at 42 C. At any given time, when returning from 42 C to 30 C, this "potential" allowed expression cell division based on DNA/mass or normal cell equivalents generated at 42 C. The half-life for decay of the division "potential" was estimated to be 1.4 minutes. The results were interpreted, in terms of an enzyme complex, which is common to the initiation of DNA replication and cellular division.

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