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Mol Microbiol. 2000 May;36(3):608-17.

Subcellular localization of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens T-DNA transport pore proteins: VirB8 is essential for the assembly of the transport pore.

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Department of Biochemistry, University of Minnesota, 1479 Gortner Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55108, USA.


Agrobacterium tumefaciens transforms plants by transferring DNA to the plant cell nucleus. The VirB membrane proteins are postulated to form a pore for the transport of the DNA across the bacterial membranes. Immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy were used to study the transport pore complex. Three likely components of the transport pore, VirB8, VirB9 and VirB10, localized primarily to the inner membrane, outer membrane and periplasm respectively. A significant amount of VirB10 was also found associated with the outer membrane. When expressed alone VirB9 and VirB10 were randomly distributed along the cell membrane. Subcellular location of both proteins changed dramatically in the presence of the other VirB proteins. Both proteins localized to fewer sites and most of the gold particles representing protein molecules were found in clusters suggesting that the two proteins are in a protein complex. VirB8, on the other hand, localized to clusters even in the absence of the other VirB proteins. To investigate the role of VirB8 in the formation of VirB9 and VirB10 protein complexes, we studied the effect of deletion of virB8 on the subcellular location of VirB9 and VirB10. In a virB8 deletion mutant both proteins were distributed randomly on the cell membrane indicating that VirB8 is essential for complex assembly.

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