The Tcp plasmids of Clostridium perfringens require the resP gene to ensure stable inheritance

Sarah Revitt-Mills, Carmen Lao, Marie Archambault, Dena Lyras, Julian I. Rood, Vicki Adams

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Many of the disease-causing toxins of the pathogenic bacterium Clostridium perfringens are harboured on large, highly stable, conjugative plasmids. Previous work has established the requirement of a ParMRC-like partitioning system for plasmid maintenance, but little is known about other mechanisms used to ensure stable plasmid inheritance. The archetypal 47 kb Tcp plasmid, pCW3, encodes a gene, resP, whose putative product has sequence similarity to members of the serine recombinase family of site-specific recombinases. ResP is therefore likely to function to resolve plasmid multimers. Sequence analysis identified that resP genes are present on all C. perfringens plasmid families, suggesting a conserved function in these plasmids. To assess the requirement of resP for the stability of pCW3, deletion mutants were constructed. Deletion of resP from pCW3 resulted in a marked instability phenotype that was rescued upon complementation with the wild-type resP gene. Complementation with resP genes from two different C. perfringens plasmids demonstrated that only closely related resP genes can complement the mutation on pCW3. The function of ResP in vivo was examined using an Escherichia coli model system, which determined that two directly repeated res sites were required for the resolution of DNA and that ResP could resolve multimeric plasmid forms into monomeric units. Based on these findings we concluded that ResP could catalyse the resolution of plasmid multimers and was required for the maintenance of Tcp plasmids within C. perfringens. Overall, the results of this study have significant implications for our understanding of the maintenance of toxin-encoding plasmids within C. perfringens.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102461
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2020


  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Plasmid maintenance
  • Plasmid resolution
  • Plasmid stability
  • Resolvase

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