Replication initiates at multiple dispersed sites in the ribosomal DNA plasmid of the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica

Suman Kumar Dhar, Nirupam Roy Choudhury, Vivek Mittal, Alok Bhattacharya, Sudha Bhattacharya

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17 Scopus citations


In the protozoan parasite Entamoeba histolytica (which causes amoebiasis in humans), the rRNA genes (rDNA) in the nucleus are carried on an extrachromosomal circular plasmid. For strain HM-1:IMSS, the size of the rDNA plasmid is 24.5 kb, and 200 copies per genome are present. Each circle contains two rRNA transcription units as inverted repeats separated by upstream and downstream spacers. We have studied the replication of this molecule by neutral/neutral two-dimensional gel electrophoresis and by electron microscopy. All restriction fragments analyzed by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis gave signals corresponding to simple Y's and bubbles. This showed that replication initiated in this plasmid at multiple, dispersed locations spread throughout the plasmid. On the basis of the intensity of the bubble arcs, initiations from the rRNA transcription units seemed to occur more frequently than those from intergenic spacers. Multiple, dispersed initiation sites were also seen in the rDNA plasmid of strain HK-9 when it was analyzed by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis. Electron microscopic visualization of replicating plasmid molecules in strain HM-1:IMSS showed multiple replication bubbles in the same molecule. The location of bubbles on the rDNA circle was mapped by digesting with PvuI or BsaHI, which linearize the molecule, and with SacI1, which cuts the circle twice. The distance of the bubbles from one end of the molecule was measured by electron microscopy. The data corroborated those from two-dimensional gels and showed that replication bubbles were distributed throughout the molecule and that they appeared more frequently in rRNA transcription units. The same interpretation was drawn from electron microscopic analysis of the HK-9 plasmid. Direct demonstration of more than one bubble in the same molecule is clear evidence that replication of this plasmid initiates at multiple sites. Potential replication origins are distributed throughout the plasmid. Such a mechanism is not known to operate in any naturally occurring prokaryotic or eukaryotic plasmid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2314-2324
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular and Cellular Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1996

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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