Alteration in the contents of unsaturated fatty acids in dnaA mutants of Escherichia coli

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DnaA protein, the initiator of chromosomal DNA replication in Escherichia coli, has a high affinity for acidic phospholipids containing unsaturated fatty acids. We have examined here the fatty acid composition of phospholipids in dnaA mutants. A temperature-sensitive dnaA46 mutant showed a lower level of unsaturation of fatty acids (ratio of unsaturated to saturated fatty acids) at 42°C (non-permissive temperature) and at 37°C (semi-permissive temperature), but not at 28°C (permissive temperature), compared with the wild-type strain. Plasmid complementation analysis revealed that the dnaA46 mutation is responsible for the phenotype. Other temperature-sensitive dnaA mutants showed similar results. On the other hand, a cold-sensitive dnaAcos mutant, in which over-initiation of DNA replication occurs at low temperature (28°C), showed a higher level of unsaturation of fatty acids at 28°C. Based on these observations, we discuss the role of phospholipids in the regulation of the activity of DnaA protein.

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