SUMMARY: Incubation of serum-sensitive [H]thymidine labelled PC2166 (RSF1030) and AM1281(pBR322) harbouring small plasmids (mol. wt 5.5 × 10 and 2.6 × 10) in serum resulted in killing of 99.9% of the bacteria within 15 min and in the release of 85% of the radioactivity into the medium after 1 h incubation. The fate of chromosomal and plasmid DNA during incubation of the bacteria in serum was analysed by measurement of the amount of DNA-associated radioactivity, by TCA precipitation, by agarose gel electrophoresis and by the capacity of DNA to transform competent acceptor bacteria. Chromosomal DNA and high molecular weight plasmid DNA were rapidly degraded after 1 h incubation of bacteria in serum. However, low molecular weight plasmid DNA was virtually unaffected and remained physicochemically as well as biologically intact during up to 4 h of incubation of bacteria in serum.


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