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Plasmid. 2001 Nov;46(3):202-9.

Transfer region of a Bacteroides conjugative transposon contains regulatory as well as structural genes.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Illinois, Urbana, Illinois 61801, USA.


Conjugative transposons (CTns) are integrated elements that excise themselves from the chromosome to form a circular transfer intermediate that is transferred by conjugation to a recipient. In an earlier paper, the excision step was shown to be regulated by tetracycline and to be dependent on the regulatory gene, rteC. In this paper, we report that genes involved in conjugal transfer are also regulated by tetracycline but that regulation is more complex. Genes contained within a 20-kbp region that is sufficient for conjugal transfer were disrupted by single crossover integration events. Most of the disruptions abolished transfer of the CTn. None of them abolished excision. Antibodies to two of the proteins encoded in this region (TraG and TraN) were obtained and used to show that production of these proteins was dependent on tetracycline stimulation. Both TraG and TraN were membrane proteins. A surprising finding was that a disruption in the gene traQ increased transfer of CTnERL over 100-fold. Thus, TraQ may be a repressor protein that controls expression of transfer genes. If so, TraQ is not the only protein that controls expression of transfer genes because production of TraG and TraN in the traQ disruption mutant was still dependent on tetracycline stimulation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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