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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1993 Aug 1;111(2-3):287-94.

Membrane location of the Ti plasmid VirB proteins involved in the biosynthesis of a pilin-like conjugative structure on Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

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Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Davis 95616.


The virB operon of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens Ti plasmid encodes 11 proteins. Specific antisera to VirB2, VirB3 and VirB9 were used to locate these virulence proteins in the A. tumefaciens cell. Immunoblot analysis located VirB2 protein to the inner and outer membranes; VirB3 and VirB9 were likewise associated with both membranes, but mainly in the outer membrane. VirB2 is processed from a 12.3-kDa protein into a 7.2-kDa polypeptide. Such sized protein results from cleavage at residue Ala47, upstream of which two additional alanine residues Ala45-Ala46 are contained and bearing resemblance to a signal peptide peptidase-I cleavage sequence. VirB2 and VirB3 sequences are strikingly similar to the pilin biosynthetic proteins TraA and TraL encoded by the tra operon of F and R1-19 plasmids. Since traA encodes a propilin that is cleaved into a 7.2-kDa conjugative pilin product and since this cleavage site is present in both TraA and VirB2, we propose that virB2 encodes a pilin-like protein which together with VirB3 and VirB9 as well as other VirB proteins may be used for interkingdom T-DNA transfer between bacteria and plants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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