Replication of broad host-range plasmid RK2 depends on a cisacting vegatative replication origin oriVRK2 and the polypeptide product(s) of the trans-acting gene trfA as well as on host-specified products. The trfA gene is the second cistron in a polycistronic unit whose first cistron may be kilD, one of 4 known RK2-specified kil loci (kilA, B, C, and D) which are inhibitory for bacterial host or plasmid vector in the absence of kor functions which suppress in trans the effect of their respective kil genes. Transcription of the operon containing trfA is negatively regulated by the products of both the trfB locus (alias korD and korA) and korB. The loci, trfB and korB, are expressed from a single transcriptional unit which we propose to be negatively autoregulated by the products of both loci, although an additional, weaker and unregulated transcript may also express korB. While deletions in the oriVRK2 region have indicated the presence of copy number control elements adjacent to and possibly overlapping with the minimal oriVRK2 segment, the overriding control of copy number seems to reside in the trfB and korB loci which in conjunction appear to reduce expression of the trfA gene to levels limiting for replication. Coregulation of trfA with kil genes may indicate that kil genes play a role in plasmid maintenance other than replication.
1985. Vol. 30