Plasmid Incompatibility and Replication Control

  • Barbara Lewis Kittell
  • Donald R. Helinski


Not all plasmids can stably coexist in a bacterial host cell. Two genetically distinguishable plasmids that cannot be stably maintained within a particular host are designated as members of the same incompatibility (Inc) group (19). Generally, if two plasmids are members of the same incompatibility group, the introduction of one of the two plasmids by conjugation, transformation, or transduction into a cell carrying the other plasmid destabilizes the inheritance of the resident plasmid. The placement of plasmids in various Inc groups has proved useful in classifying plasmid elements and identifying plasmids that are genetically related. The phenomenon of plasmid incompatibility is a consequence of two plasmids sharing common elements responsible for plasmid maintenance, namely, replication control and/or partitioning systems (63). It is also dependent on the fact that at least for those plasmids examined, representing plasmids from both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, the selection of individual plasmid molecules for replication and partitioning is carried out randomly from a common pool of molecules (5, 63, 82, 84).


Replication Origin Plasmid Copy Number Replication Protein Plasmid Replication Titration Model 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Lewis Kittell
    • 1
  • Donald R. Helinski
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biology and Center for Molecular GeneticsUniversity of California, San DiegoLa JollaUSA

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