Polyadenylation can regulate ColE1 type plasmid copy number independently of any effect on RNAI decay by decreasing the interaction of antisense RNAI with its RNAII target.Plasmid 2002; 48(1):49-58P
Replication of ColE1-type plasmids is regulated by RNAI, an antisense RNA that interacts with the replication pre-primer, RNAII. Exonucleolytic attack at the 3' end of RNAI is impeded in pcnB mutant bacteria, which lack poly(A) polymerase I-the principal RNA polyadenylase of E. coli; this leads to accumulation of an RNAI decay intermediate (RNAI(-5)) and dramatic reduction of the plasmid copy number. Here, we report that polyadenylation can also affect RNAI-mediated control of plasmid DNA replication by inhibiting interaction of RNAI(-5) with RNAII. We show that mutation of the host pcnB gene profoundly affects the plasmid copy number, even under experimental conditions that limit the effects of polyadenylation on RNAI(-5) decay. Moreover, poly(A) tails interfere with RNAI/RNAII interaction in vitro without producing any detectable alteration of RNAI secondary structure. Our results establish the existence of a previously undetected mechanism by which RNA polyadenylation can control plasmid copy number.