Mar 17, 2011

Efficient gene transfer in bacterial cell chains

MBio
Ana BabicAlan D Grossman

Abstract

Horizontal gene transfer contributes to evolution and the acquisition of new traits. In bacteria, horizontal gene transfer is often mediated by conjugative genetic elements that transfer directly from cell to cell. Integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs; also known as conjugative transposons) are mobile genetic elements that reside within a host genome but can excise to form a circle and transfer by conjugation to recipient cells. ICEs contribute to the spread of genes involved in pathogenesis, symbiosis, metabolism, and antibiotic resistance. Despite its importance, little is known about the mechanisms of conjugation in Gram-positive bacteria or how quickly or frequently transconjugants become donors. We visualized the transfer of the integrative and conjugative element ICEBs1 from a Bacillus subtilis donor to recipient cells in real time using fluorescence microscopy. We found that transfer of DNA from a donor to a recipient appeared to occur at a cell pole or along the lateral cell surface of either cell. Most importantly, we found that when acquired by 1 cell in a chain, ICEBs1 spread rapidly from cell to cell within the chain by additional sequential conjugation events. This intrachain conjugation is inherently more ef...Continue Reading

  • References38
  • Citations31

References

Mentioned in this Paper

Gram-Positive Bacteria
Metabolic Process, Cellular
Pathogenic Aspects
Bacterial cell
Conjugation
Pathogenesis
Pathogenic Organism
Immunofluorescence Microscopy
Gene Transfer, Horizontal
Bacillus subtilis

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