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J Bacteriol. 1996 Sep;178(17):5302-8.

Requirement for genes with homology to ABC transport systems for attachment and virulence of Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

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  • 1Department of Biology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill 27599-3280, USA.


Transposon mutants of Agrobacterium tumefaciens which were avirulent and unable to attach to plant cells were isolated and described previously. A clone from a library of Agrobacterium tumefaciens DNA which was able to complement these chromosomal att mutants was identified. Tn3HoHo1 insertions in this clone were made and used to replace the wild-type genes in the bacterial chromosome by marker exchange. The resulting mutants were avirulent and showed either no or very much reduced attachment to carrot suspension culture cells. We sequenced a 10-kb region of this clone and found a putative operon containing nine open reading frames (ORFs) (attA1A2BCDEFGH). The second and third ORFs (attA2 and attB) showed homology to genes encoding the membrane-spanning proteins (potB and potH; potC and potI) of periplasmic binding protein-dependent (ABC) transport systems from gram-negative bacteria. The homology was strongest to proteins involved in the transport of spermidine and putrescine. The first and fifth ORFs (attA1 and attE) showed homology to the genes encoding ATP-binding proteins of these systems including potA, potG, and cysT from Escherichia coli; occP from A. tumefaciens; cysA from Synechococcus spp.; and ORF-C from an operon involved in the attachment of Campylobacte jejuni. The ability of mutants in these att genes to bind to host cells was restored by addition of conditioned medium during incubation of the bacteria with host cells.

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