Stability of pBR322-derived plasmids.Plasmid 1988; 20(3):207-20P
The stability of pBR322-derived plasmids was studied during growth of their Escherichia coli host in the absence of antibiotics. Plasmid pBR322, as well as its delta rom and delta bla derivatives, were lost from their host within 60 generations, but a number of delta tet derivatives were quite stable under the same conditions. An evaluation of the data indicated that primary plasmid loss due to random partitioning corresponds to the generation of a plasmid-free cell about every 10(4) divisions (probability P0; = "intrinsic" instability). Secondary loss of plasmid-carrying cells resulted from a growth advantage of the plasmid-free cells when bacteria die, perhaps due to unrepaired lethal damage in the DNA, under conditions of stationary incubation (= "apparent" instability). This cell death also occurred in the absence of plasmids but was accelerated by the presence of extra plasmid DNA in the cell and further accelerated by a functional tet gene. This was the reason for the differential apparent stabilities of delta bla and delta tet plasmids. There was no indication that an accumulation of plasmid multimers contributed to the plasmid instability, as has been suggested in the literature. The value of P0 = 10(-4) is 14 orders of magnitude greater than expected under the assumption of a random (Poisson) distribution of plasmid copy numbers in a population of cells.