Functional Characterization of Replication and Stability Factors of an Incompatibility Group P-1 Plasmid from Xylella fastidiosa

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Xylella fastidiosa strain riv11 harbors a 25-kbp plasmid (pXF-RIV11) belonging to the IncP-1 incompatibility group. Replication and stability factors of pXF-RIV11 were identified and used to construct plasmids able to replicate in X. fastidiosa and Escherichia coli. Replication in X. fastidiosa required a 1.4-kbp region from pXF-RIV11 containing a replication initiation gene (trfA) and the adjacent origin of DNA replication (oriV). Constructs containing trfA and oriV from pVEIS01, a related IncP-1 plasmid of the earthworm symbiont Verminephrobacter eiseniae, also were competent for replication in X. fastidiosa. Constructs derived from pXF-RIV11 but not pVEIS01 replicated in Agrobacterium tumefaciens, Xanthomonas campestris, and Pseudomonas syringae. Although plasmids bearing replication elements from pXF-RIV11 or pVEIS01 could be maintained in X. fastidiosa under antibiotic selection, removal of selection resulted in plasmid extinction after 3 weekly passages. Addition of a toxin-antitoxin addiction system (pemI/pemK) from pXF-RIV11 improved plasmid stability such that >80 to 90% of X. fastidiosa cells retained plasmid after 5 weekly passages in the absence of antibiotic selection. Expression of PemK in E. coli was toxic for cell growth, but toxicity was nullified by coexpression of PemI antitoxin. Deletion of N-terminal sequences of PemK containing the conserved motif RGD abolished toxicity. In vitro assays revealed a direct interaction of PemI with PemK, suggesting that antitoxin activity of PemI is mediated by toxin sequestration. IncP-1 plasmid replication and stability factors were added to an E. coli cloning vector to constitute a stable 6.0-kbp shuttle vector (pXF20-PEMIK) suitable for use in X. fastidiosa.


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  • Escherichia coli
  • Xylella fastidiosa


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