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Trends Genet. 1996 Apr;12(4):150-5.

Who's competent and when: regulation of natural genetic competence in bacteria.

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Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge 02139, USA.


Natural genetic competence, the ability of cells to bind to and to take up exogenous DNA, is widespread among bacteria and might be an important mechanism for the horizontal transfer of genes. Competent cells express specialized proteins that assemble into a DNA-uptake complex. In many organisms, the development of competence and expression of the uptake machinery is regulated in response to cell-cell signaling and/or nutritional conditions. Exciting new progress has been made in characterizing the signals and pathways that regulate the development of competence.

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