[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Conjugation is a major route of horizontal gene transfer, the driving force in the evolution of bacterial genomes. Antibiotic producing soil bacteria of the genus Streptomyces transfer DNA in a unique process involving a single plasmid-encoded protein TraB and a double-stranded DNA molecule. However, the molecular function of TraB in directing DNA transfer from a donor into a recipient cell is unknown. Here, we show that TraB constitutes a novel conjugation system that is clearly distinguished from DNA transfer by a type IV secretion system. We demonstrate that TraB specifically recognizes and binds to repeated 8 bp motifs on the conjugative plasmid. The specific DNA recognition is mediated by helix α3 of the C-terminal winged-helix-turn-helix domain of TraB. We show that TraB assembles to a hexameric ring structure with a central ∼3.1 nm channel and forms pores in lipid bilayers. Structure, sequence similarity and DNA binding characteristics of TraB indicate that TraB is derived from an FtsK-like ancestor protein, suggesting that Streptomyces adapted the FtsK/SpoIIIE chromosome segregation system to transfer DNA between two distinct Streptomyces cells.
The EMBO Journal 06/2011; 30(11):2246-54. · 9.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Streptomycetes, Gram-positive soil bacteria well known for the production of antibiotics feature a unique conjugative DNA transfer system. In contrast to classical conjugation which is characterized by the secretion of a pilot protein covalently linked to a single-stranded DNA molecule, in Streptomyces a double-stranded DNA molecule is translocated during conjugative transfer. This transfer involves a single plasmid encoded protein, TraB. A detailed biochemical and biophysical characterization of TraB, revealed a close relationship to FtsK, mediating chromosome segregation during bacterial cell division. TraB translocates plasmid DNA by recognizing 8-bp direct repeats located in a specific plasmid region clt. Similar sequences accidentally also occur on chromosomes and have been shown to be bound by TraB. We suggest that TraB mobilizes chromosomal genes by the interaction with these chromosomal clt-like sequences not relying on the integration of the conjugative plasmid into the chromosome.