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J Bacteriol. 2006 Aug;188(16):5704-11.

Requirement for Vibrio cholerae integration host factor in conjugative DNA transfer.

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Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 136 Harrison Avenue, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


The requirement for host factors in the transmission of integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs) has not been extensively explored. Here we tested whether integration host factor (IHF) or Fis, two host-encoded nucleoid proteins, are required for transfer of SXT, a Vibrio cholerae-derived ICE that can be transmitted to many gram-negative species. Fis did not influence the transfer of SXT to or from V. cholerae. In contrast, IHF proved to be required for V. cholerae to act as an SXT donor. In the absence of IHF, V. cholerae displayed a modest defect for serving as an SXT recipient. Surprisingly, SXT integration into or excision from the V. cholerae chromosome, which requires an SXT-encoded integrase related to lambda integrase, did not require IHF. Therefore, the defect in SXT transmission in the V. cholerae IHF mutant is probably not related to IHF's ability to promote DNA recombination. The V. cholerae IHF mutant was also highly impaired as a donor of RP4, a broad-host-range conjugative plasmid. Thus, the V. cholerae IHF mutant appears to have a general defect in conjugation. Escherichia coli IHF mutants were not impaired as donors or recipients of SXT or RP4, indicating that IHF is a V. cholerae-specific conjugation factor.

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