The highly defective rho-15 mutant of Escherichia coli produces plasmid DNA that is 22% less negatively supercoiled than DNA from an isogenic wild-type strain (J. S. Fassler, G. F. Arnold, and I. Tessman, Mol. Gen. Genet. 204:424-429, 1986). We extended our measurements of plasmid superhelicity to additional rho mutants and to strains containing mutations that suppress rho transcription termination defects; the suppressor mutations were in the rpoB and the rho genes. The superhelicity of plasmid DNA was reduced by 11 and 10%, respectively, in the rho-702 and rho-201 mutants, both of which are less defective in Rho-mediated transcription termination than rho-15. Plasmid superhelicity was restored in all the suppressed rho mutants; in one rpoB mutant, plasmid DNA was even more negatively supercoiled than in rpoB+ cells, whether in a rho+ or rho mutant background. Suppression of rho mutants enabled them to maintain plasmids that could not be maintained in the mutants in the absence of the suppressor mutations. The results indicate that in addition to DNA gyrase, topoisomerase I, and Rho, RNA polymerase is also a determinant of DNA superhelicity, and its effect is modified by the Rho protein. We propose that Rho may increase the degree of DNA unwinding by the transcription complex, possibly at transcription termination sites.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology