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Gene. 2004 Jul 7;336(1):81-91.

Identification and characterization of traE genes of Spiroplasma kunkelii.

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Department of Entomology, The Ohio State University-Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center, 1680 Madison Avenue, Wooster, OH 44691, USA.


Four traE homologs, designated traE1, traE2, traE3 and traE4, were identified and amplified from the genome of the leafhopper-transmitted corn stunt pathogen Spiroplasma kunkelii and were predicted to encode membrane-bound adenine tri-phosphatases (ATPases). Deduced proteins of all traE genes have 62.3% to 89.9% similarity to the conserved VirB4 domain that is frequently a component of type IV secretory pathways involved in intracellular trafficking and secretion of DNA and proteins. In phylogenetic analysis, TraE homologs of S. kunkelii, Mycoplasma pulmonis and Mycoplasma fermentans cluster together and are more similar to TraE proteins of Gram-positive bacteria than to those of Gram-negative bacteria, thereby resembling the 16S rRNA phylogeny. Gene traE2 was most conserved whereas the presence of the three other traE genes varied among S. kunkelii strains, M2, CS-2B, FL-80 and PU8-17. Further, traE1 and traE2 appeared to be located on the chromosome, and traE3 and traE4 genes on plasmids of S. kunkelii strain M2. Transcripts of the spiralin gene and traE2 genes were detected on Northern blots containing total ribonucleic acids (RNA) of S. kunkelii cultures and S. kunkelii-infected plants and insects, in which traE2 appeared to be of a larger transcription unit. Full-length expression products of the other traE genes were not detected. S. kunkelii traE genes could be involved in S. kunkelii cell morphogenesis, adhesion and DNA recombination.

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