Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Bacteriol. 1996 Mar;178(5):1457-64.

Mechanism of retrotransfer in conjugation: prior transfer of the conjugative plasmid is required.

Author information

  • 1Department of Microbiology and Cancer Center, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York 10032, USA.


Bacterial conjugation normally involves the unidirectional transfer of DNA from donor to recipient. Occasionally, conjugation results in the transfer of DNA from recipient to donor, a phenomenon known as retrotransfer. Two distinct models have been generally considered for the mechanism of retrotransfer. In the two-way conduction model, no transfer of the conjugative plasmid is required. The establishment of a single conjugation bridge between donor and recipient is sufficient for the transfer of DNA in both directions. In the one-way conduction model, transfer of the conjugative plasmid to the recipient is required to allow the synthesis of a new conjugation bridge for the transfer of DNA from recipient to donor. We have tested these models by the construction of a mutant of the self-transmissible, IncP plasmid RK2lac that allows the establishement of the conjugation bridge but is incapable of self-transfer. Four nucleotides of the nic region of the origin of transfer (oriT) were changed directly in the 67-kb plasmid RK2lac by a simple adaptation of the vector-mediated excision (VEX) strategy for precision mutagenesis of large plasmids (E. K.Ayres, V. J. Thomson, G. Merino, D. Balderes, and D. H. Figurski, J. Mol. Biol. 230:174-185, 1993). The resulting RK2lac oriT1 mutant plasmid mobilizes IncQ or IncP oriT+ plasmids efficiently but transfers itself at a frequency which is 10(4)-fold less than that of the wild type. Whereas the wild-type RK2lac oriT+ plasmid promotes the retrotransfer of an IncQ plasmid from Escherichia coli or Pseudomonas aeruginosa recipients, the RK2lac oriT1 mutant is severely defective in retrotransfer. Therefore, retrotransfer requires prior transfer of the conjugative plasmid to the recipient. The results prove that retrotransfer occurs by two sequential DNA transfer events.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk