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Microbiol Rev. 1994 Sep;58(3):293-316.

Translocation of DNA across bacterial membranes.

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  • Mikrobiologie/Gentechnologie, Universit├Ąt Bielefeld, Germany.


DNA translocation across bacterial membranes occurs during the biological processes of infection by bacteriophages, conjugative DNA transfer of plasmids, T-DNA transfer, and genetic transformation. The mechanism of DNA translocation in these systems is not fully understood, but during the last few years extensive data about genes and gene products involved in the translocation processes have accumulated. One reason for the increasing interest in this topic is the discussion about horizontal gene transfer and transkingdom sex. Analyses of genes and gene products involved in DNA transfer suggest that DNA is transferred through a protein channel spanning the bacterial envelope. No common model exists for DNA translocation during phage infection. Perhaps various mechanisms are necessary as a result of the different morphologies of bacteriophages. The DNA translocation processes during conjugation, T-DNA transfer, and transformation are more consistent and may even be compared to the excretion of some proteins. On the basis of analogies and homologies between the proteins involved in DNA translocation and protein secretion, a common basic model for these processes is presented.

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