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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1992 Dec 15;100(1-3):345-9.

Transformation-mediated exchange of virulence determinants by co-cultivation of pathogenic Neisseriae.

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Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, FRG.


The horizontal flow of genetic material between microbes utilizes three principal routes: conjugation, transduction and transformation. While the significance in nature of the first two pathways is generally accepted, the in vivo role of transformation remains uncertain, despite the early observations by Griffith in 1928 on the transformation of streptococci from an avirulent to a virulent state [1]. Recently, circumstantial evidence was collected suggesting a role for transformation-mediated horizontal exchange in the modulation of virulence determinants of pathogenic Neisseriae and the variation of surface structures. In order to further assess the significance of transformation-mediated exchange we performed simple co-cultivation experiments of different Neisseria strains. We observed an efficient intra- and interspecies transfer of essential virulence determinants; the process was sensitive to the presence of DNaseI in the culture and was blocked in transformation-deficient recipients.

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