The extremely thermophilic bacterium Thermus thermophilus is a model organism for structural biology and systems biology, and the so-called "Structural and Functional Whole-Cell Project for T. thermophilus HB8" is in progress. The released genomic sequence of the strain HB8 is composed of chromosome, pTT27 megaplasmid, and pTT8 plasmid. In this paper, however, a third plasmid was demonstrated and its sequence was determined. Although this plasmid pVV8 had been reported before, limited information and an unfortunate dropout in the substrain, whose genomic sequence was determined, would have prevented the plasmid from coming to public attention. The intrinsic circular plasmid, which was estimated to be six to ten copies in a cell, is 81151 bp and its G + C content is 68%. Among the identified 91 ORFs, a single gene has been experimentally analyzed before and is known as xylose isomerase. The phnCDEGHIJKLMX operon related to phosphonate metabolism, alkaline phosphatase, putative transcriptional regulators, several sets of toxin-antitoxin system, and transposase-like ORFs are also encoded on the pVV8 plasmid. Although association with cell aggregation was the one phenotypic characteristic of the plasmid that had been reported, it was never confirmed. Comparison of T. thermophilus HB8 strains suggests that the pVV8 is nonessential for growth.
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