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Plasmid. 2008 Nov;60(3):190-9. doi: 10.1016/j.plasmid.2008.07.003. Epub 2008 Sep 21.

Transcriptional analysis of the conjugative plasmid pAW63 from Bacillus thuringiensis.

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Laboratory of Food and Environmental Microbiology, Université catholique de Louvain, Croix du Sud, 2/12, B-1348 Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium.


The broad-host range plasmid pAW63 is a model for the study of molecular mechanisms associated with conjugation in the Gram-positive Bacillus cereus group. Its main features are a conjugative apparatus that includes Type IV Secretion System-like components and two Group II introns, and, located within conjugation genes, as well as a putative regulatory control circuit. Furthermore, pAW63 shares a common backbone with pXO2, the second virulence plasmid of Bacillus anthracis, and with pBT9727 from the pathogenic Bacillus thuringiensis subsp. konkukian strain 97-27. In this study, the transcriptome of pAW63 was investigated using a custom DNA microarray, providing insight into the genetic clockwork of this conjugative plasmid. Gene expression profiles suggested that in the absence of mating partners, a partial 'standby mode' was in effect, with little production of many of the structural elements thought to be involved in mating pair formation and DNA transfer, while components of a proposed quorum sensing mechanism were actively expressed. Intron splicing was demonstrated for the intron.

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