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J Bacteriol. 1977 Feb;129(2):983-92.

Factors affecting genetic transformation of Neisseria gonorrhoeae.


Piliated gonococci were competent in genetic transformation in all stages of growth in minimal and enriched media, but nonpiliated cells were almost totally incompetent. Uptake of deoxyribonucleic acid into a deoxyribonuclease-insensitive state was observed only in competent piliated cells. Competence was not affected by washing of competent cells or treatment of competent cells with proteolytic enzymes. Expression of competence required presence of any of several different monovalent or divalent cations, as well as a utilizable source of energy. Efforts to produce genotypically or phenotypically competent derivatives of nonpiliated cells were unsuccessful. These experiments are consistent with the idea that pili may play a role in the irreversible uptake of transforming deoxyribonucleic acid by the gonococcus, but fail to provide evidence for other types of competence factors.

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