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Mol Microbiol. 2006 Nov;62(3):906-15. Epub 2006 Sep 29.

Virulence of Agrobacterium tumefaciens requires phosphatidylcholine in the bacterial membrane.

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Lehrstuhl für Biologie der Mikroorganismen, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bochum, Germany.


Phosphatidylcholine (PC, lecithin) has long been considered a solely eukaryotic membrane lipid. Only a minority of all bacteria is able to synthesize PC. The plant-transforming bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens encodes two potential PC forming enzymes, a phospholipid N-methyltransferase (PmtA) and a PC synthase (Pcs). We show that PC biosynthesis and tumour formation on Kalanchoë plants was impaired in the double mutant. The virulence defect was due to a complete lack of the type IV secretion machinery in the Agrobacterium PC mutant. Our results strongly suggest that PC in bacterial membranes is an important determinant for the establishment of host-microbe interactions.

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