DNA Replication of Extrachromosomal Elements: Plasmids and Viruses


Related Posts:

The process of rolling circle replication results in the synthesis of a single new copy of the circular
DNA molecule, as shown here.

Source: OpenStax Microbiology

OpenStax Microbiology

To copy their nucleic acids, plasmids and viruses frequently use variations on the pattern of DNA replication described for prokaryote genomes. For more information on the wide range of viral replication strategies.

Rolling Circle Replication

Whereas many bacterial plasmids replicate by a process similar to that used to copy the bacterial chromosome, other plasmids, several bacteriophages, and some viruses of eukaryotes use rolling circle replication. The circular nature of plasmids and the circularization of some viral genomes on infection make this possible. Rolling circle replication begins with the enzymatic nicking of one strand of the double-stranded circular molecule at the double-stranded origin (dso) site. In bacteria, DNA polymerase III binds to the 3’-OH group of the nicked strand and begins to unidirectionally replicate the DNA using the un-nicked strand as a template, displacing the nicked strand as it does so. Completion of DNA replication at the site of the original nick results in full displacement of the nicked strand, which may then recircularize into a singlestranded DNA molecule. RNA primase then synthesizes a primer to initiate DNA replication at the single-stranded origin (sso) site of the single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) molecule, resulting in a double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) molecule identical to the other circular DNA molecule.


Parker, N., Schneegurt, M., Thi Tu, A.-H., Forster, B. M., & Lister, P. (n.d.). Microbiology. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at: https://openstax.org/details/books/microbiology