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Toxicity of the bacteriophage lambda cII gene product to Escherichia coli arises from inhibition of host cell DNA replication



Toxicity of the bacteriophage lambda cII gene product to Escherichia coli arises from inhibition of host cell DNA replication



Virology 313(2): 622-628



The bacteriophage lambda cII gene codes for a transcriptional activator protein which is a crucial regulator at the stage of the "lysis-versus-lysogeny" decision during phage development. The CII protein is highly toxic to the host, Escherichia coli, when overproduced. However, the molecular mechanism of this toxicity is not known. Here we demonstrate that DNA synthesis, but not total RNA synthesis, is strongly inhibited in cII-overexpressing E. coli cells. The toxicity was also observed when the transcriptional stimulator activity of CII was abolished either by a point mutation in the cII gene or by a point mutation, rpoA341, in the gene coding for the RNA polymerase alpha subunit. Moreover, inhibition of cell growth, caused by both wild-type and mutant CII proteins in either rpoA(+) or rpoA341 hosts, could be relieved by overexpression of the E. coli dnaB and dnaC genes. In vitro replication of an oriC-based plasmid DNA was somewhat impaired by the presence of the CII, and several CII-resistant E. coli strains contain mutations near dnaC. We conclude that the DNA replication machinery may be a target for the toxic activity of CII.

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Accession: 011578790

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PMID: 12954227


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