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Future Microbiol. 2010 Jul;5(7):1057-71. doi: 10.2217/fmb.10.70.

Regulation of bacterial conjugation: balancing opportunity with adversity.

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1
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2E9, Canada. laura.frost@ualberta.ca

Abstract

Conjugative plasmids are involved in the dissemination of important traits such as antibiotic resistance, virulence determinants and metabolic pathways involved in adapting to environmental niches, a process termed horizontal or lateral gene transfer. Conjugation is the process of transferring DNA from a donor to a recipient cell with the establishment of the incoming DNA and its cargo of genetic traits within the transconjugant. Conjugation is mediated by self-transmissible plasmids as well as phage-like sequences that have been integrated into the bacterial chromosome, such as integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs) that now include conjugative transposons. Both conjugative plasmids and ICEs can mediate the transfer of mobilizable elements by sharing their conjugative machinery. Conjugation can either be induced, usually by small molecules or peptides or by excision of the ICE from the host chromosome, or it can be tightly regulated by plasmid- and host-encoded factors. The transfer potential of these transfer regions depends on the integration of many signals in response to environmental and physiological cues. This review will focus on the mechanisms that influence transfer potential in these systems, particularly those of the IncF incompatibility group.

PMID:
20632805
DOI:
10.2217/fmb.10.70
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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