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Chapter 1 : Introduction to Plasmids: a Selective View of Their History

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Abstract:

In the late 1950s, a number of laboratories took up the study of plasmids once the discovery was made that extrachromosomal antibiotic resistance (R) factors are the responsible agents for the transmissibility of multiple antibiotic resistance among the enterobacteria. The use of incompatibility for the classification of plasmids is now widespread. It seems clear now on the basis of the limited studies to date that the number of incompatibility groups of plasmids will likely be extremely large when one includes plasmids obtained from bacteria that are normal inhabitants of poorly studied natural environments. The presence of both linear chromosomes and linear plasmids is now established for several species. One of the more fascinating developments in plasmid biology was the discovery of linear plasmids in the 1980s. A remarkable feature of the Ti plasmids of is the presence of two DNA transfer systems. A definitive demonstration that plasmids consisted of duplex DNA came from interspecies conjugal transfer of plasmids followed by separation of plasmid DNA from chromosomal DNA by equilibrium buoyant density centrifugation. The formation of channels for DNA movement and the actual steps involved in DNA transport offer many opportunities for the discovery of proteins with novel activities and for establishing fundamentally new concepts of macromolecular interactions between DNA and specific proteins, membranes, and the peptidoglycan matrix.

Citation: Helinski D. 2004. Introduction to Plasmids: a Selective View of Their History, p 1-21. In Funnell B, Phillips G (ed), Plasmid Biology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817732.ch1

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