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Cell. 2007 Sep 7;130(5):824-36.

A key presynaptic role in transformation for a widespread bacterial protein: DprA conveys incoming ssDNA to RecA.

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Laboratoire de Microbiologie et Génétique Moléculaires, UMR 5100 CNRS-Université Paul Sabatier, 118 route de Narbonne, 31062 Toulouse Cedex 09, France.


Natural transformation is a mechanism for genetic exchange in many bacterial genera. It proceeds through the uptake of exogenous DNA and subsequent homology-dependent integration into the genome. In Streptococcus pneumoniae, this integration requires the ubiquitous recombinase, RecA, and DprA, a protein of unknown function widely conserved in bacteria. To unravel the role of DprA, we have studied the properties of the purified S. pneumoniae protein and its Bacillus subtilis ortholog (Smf). We report that DprA and Smf bind cooperatively to single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) and that these proteins both self-interact and interact with RecA. We demonstrate that DprA-RecA-ssDNA filaments are produced and that these filaments catalyze the homology-dependent formation of joint molecules. Finally, we show that while the Escherichia coli ssDNA-binding protein SSB limits access of RecA to ssDNA, DprA lowers this barrier. We propose that DprA is a new member of the recombination-mediator protein family, dedicated to natural bacterial transformation.

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