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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1997 Nov; 63(11): 4150–4157.
PMCID: PMC168731

A novel competence gene, comP, is essential for natural transformation of Acinetobacter sp. strain BD413.


Acinetobacter sp. strain BD413 (= ATCC 33305), a nutritionally versatile bacterium, has an extremely efficient natural transformation system. Here we describe the generation of eight transformation-affected mutants of Acinetobacter sp. strain BD413 by insertional mutagenesis. These mutants were found by Southern blot analysis and complementation studies to result from single nptII marker insertions at different chromosomal loci. DNA binding and uptake studies with one mutant, T205, revealed that the transformation deficiency of this mutant results from a complete lack of DNA binding and, therefore, uptake activity. A novel competence gene essential for natural transformation, named comP, was cloned by complementation of mutant T205. The nucleotide sequence of comP was determined, and its deduced 15-kDa polypeptide displays significant similarities to type IV pilins. Analysis of the ultrastructure of a transformation-deficient comP mutant and the transformation-competent wild-type strain revealed that both are covered with bundle-forming thin fimbriae (3 to 4 nm in diameter) and individual thick fimbriae (6 nm in diameter). These results provide evidence that the pilinlike ComP is unrelated to the piluslike structures of strain BD413. Taking all data into account, we propose that ComP functions as a major subunit of an organelle acting as a channel or pore mediating DNA binding and/or uptake in Acinetobacter sp. strain BD413.

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Selected References

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