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EMBO J. 2011 Jun 1;30(11):2246-54. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2011.121. Epub 2011 Apr 19.

Conjugal plasmid transfer in Streptomyces resembles bacterial chromosome segregation by FtsK/SpoIIIE.

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  • 1Interfakultaeres Institut für Mikrobiologie und Infektionsmedizin Tuebingen IMIT, Mikrobiologie/Biotechnologie, Eberhard Karls Universitaet Tuebingen, Tuebingen, Germany.

Abstract

Conjugation is a major route of horizontal gene transfer, the driving force in the evolution of bacterial genomes. Antibiotic producing soil bacteria of the genus Streptomyces transfer DNA in a unique process involving a single plasmid-encoded protein TraB and a double-stranded DNA molecule. However, the molecular function of TraB in directing DNA transfer from a donor into a recipient cell is unknown. Here, we show that TraB constitutes a novel conjugation system that is clearly distinguished from DNA transfer by a type IV secretion system. We demonstrate that TraB specifically recognizes and binds to repeated 8 bp motifs on the conjugative plasmid. The specific DNA recognition is mediated by helix α3 of the C-terminal winged-helix-turn-helix domain of TraB. We show that TraB assembles to a hexameric ring structure with a central ∼3.1 nm channel and forms pores in lipid bilayers. Structure, sequence similarity and DNA binding characteristics of TraB indicate that TraB is derived from an FtsK-like ancestor protein, suggesting that Streptomyces adapted the FtsK/SpoIIIE chromosome segregation system to transfer DNA between two distinct Streptomyces cells.

PMID:
21505418
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3117642
Free PMC Article

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