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FEMS Microbiol Rev. 2009 May;33(3):643-56. doi: 10.1111/j.1574-6976.2009.00164.x. Epub 2009 Feb 18.

The genetic transformation machinery: composition, localization, and mechanism.

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Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, LMGM-UMR, Toulouse, France.


Natural genetic transformation is widely distributed in bacteria. It is a genetically programmed process that is inherent to the species. Transformation requires a specialized membrane-associated machinery for uptake of exogenous double-stranded DNA. It also requires dedicated cytosolic proteins, some of which have been characterized only recently, for the processing of internalized single-stranded DNA fragments into recombination products. A series of observations made in Bacillus subtilis and Streptococcus pneumoniae led to the recent emergence of a picture of a unique, highly integrated machine localized at the cell poles. This dynamic machine, which we propose to name the transformasome, involves both membrane and cytosolic proteins, to internalize, protect, and process transforming DNA. This review attempts to summarize these recent observations with special emphasis on the early stages in DNA processing.

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