1 The Department of Science, Systems and Models, Roskilde University2 Molekylær og generel fysiologi, Department of Science and Environment, Roskilde University
RctB serves as the initiator protein for replication from oriCII, the origin of replication of Vibrio cholerae chromosome II. RctB is conserved between members of Vibrionaceae but shows no homology to known replication initiator proteins and has no recognizable sequence motifs. We used an oriCII based minichromosome to isolate copy-up mutants in Escherichia coli. Three point mutations rctBR269H, rctBL439H and rctBY381N and one IS10 insertion in the 3′-end of the rctB gene were obtained. We determined the maximal C-terminal deletion that still gave rise to a functional RctB protein to be 165 amino acids. All rctB mutations led to decreased RctB–RctB interaction indicating that the monomer is the active form of the initiator protein. All mutations also showed various defects in rctB autoregulation. Loss of the C-terminal part of RctB led to overinitiation by reducing binding of RctB to both rctA and inc regions that normally serve to limit initiation from oriCII. Overproduction of RctBR269H and RctBL439H led to a rapid increase in oriCII copy number. This suggests that the initiator function of the two mutant proteins is increased relative to the wild-type.