Dimer formation is a serious threat to the stable maintenance of ColE1-like plasmids. Dimers form infrequently by homologous recombination but accumulate rapidly by having two origins of replication. This results in elevated plasmid loss and a reduction in host cell growth rate. Plasmid dimers are resolved to monomers by the XerCD recombinase plus accessory proteins ArgR and PepA, acting at the cer recombination site. The circular chromosome of E. coli also forms dimers infrequently, and consequent failure of chromosome partition results in filamentation, SOS induction, and failure of cell division. Site-specific recombination is required for dimer resolution during cell division in a process facilitated by XerCD acting at the dif (deletion induced filamentation) site near the E. coli chromosome terminus. ArgR and PepA accessory proteins are nonessential, but the septum-associated protein FtsK is necessary for dimer segregation, suggesting the XerCD/difcomplex interacts with division septums. Our preliminary work had revealed homology between cer and a 170 bp chromosomal site (tcs, terminal region cer-like site) 1.2 min from dif. The tcs site and surrounding region was cloned into plasmids, dimer plasmids were purified and then assayed for tcs-mediated recombination. Our results demonstrate that a construct with a 500 bp tcs insert supports XerCD-mediated recombination, whereas smaller constructs were recombination-deficient. The absence of plasmid monomerization in mutant strains indicates that ArgR and PepA are required for recombination. Additionally, the tcs knockout strain displayed moderate filamentation of cells. Given the similarities between cer, tcs, and dif, these results suggest that tcs could facilitate chromosome dimer resolution.

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