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MBio. 2014 Aug 19;5(4). pii: e01409-14. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01409-14.

DNA transport across the outer and inner membranes of naturally transformable Vibrio cholerae is spatially but not temporally coupled.

Author information

1
Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, Global Health Institute, School of Life Sciences, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland.
2
Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, Global Health Institute, School of Life Sciences, Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Lausanne, Switzerland melanie.blokesch@epfl.ch.

Abstract

The physiological state of natural competence for transformation allows certain bacteria to take up free DNA from the environment and to recombine such newly acquired DNA into their chromosomes. However, even though conserved components that are required to undergo natural transformation have been identified in several naturally competent bacteria, our knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of the DNA uptake process remains very limited. To better understand these mechanisms, we investigated the competence-mediated DNA transport in the naturally transformable pathogen Vibrio cholerae. Previously, we used a cell biology-based approach to experimentally address an existing hypothesis, which suggested the competence protein ComEA plays a role in the DNA uptake process across the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Here, we extended this knowledge by investigating the dynamics of DNA translocation across both membranes. More precisely, we indirectly visualized the transfer of the external DNA from outside the cell into the periplasm followed by the shuttling of the DNA into the cytoplasm. Based on these data, we conclude that for V. cholerae, the DNA translocation across the outer and inner membranes is spatially but not temporally coupled.

IMPORTANCE:

As a mode of horizontal gene transfer, natural competence for transformation has contributed substantially to the plasticity of genomes and to bacterial evolution. Natural competence is often a tightly regulated process and is induced by diverse environmental cues. This is in contrast to the mechanistic aspects of the DNA translocation event, which are most likely conserved among naturally transformable bacteria. However, the DNA uptake process is still not well understood. We therefore investigated how external DNA reaches the cytosol of the naturally transformable bacterium V. cholerae. More specifically, we provide evidence that the DNA translocation across the membranes is spatially but not temporally coupled. We hypothesize that this model also applies to other competent Gram-negative bacteria and that our study contributes to the general understanding of this important biological process.

PMID:
25139903
PMCID:
PMC4147865
DOI:
10.1128/mBio.01409-14
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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