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Chapter 28 : Three Histories of Competence and Transformation

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Abstract:

This chapter talks about competence and transformation in their bacterial senses (competence to take up DNA, genetic transformation by recombination with this DNA) and also about the skills and sudden changes at the heart of a research career. Thus, one of the three histories is the author's own—how he came to work on DNA uptake, why he thinks it is so important. Another is the history of research into competence and transformation--what has been learned and where it has led. The third is the evolutionary history of the phenomena themselves--when and how the ability to actively take up DNA evolved, how often it leads to genetic transformation, and what this has contributed to bacterial evolution. The author knew from introductory biology that the first evidence DNA carried genetic information was the ability of to change its genes by taking up DNA from its surroundings. Since then a number of bacteria had been shown to take up fragments of chromosomal DNA and recombine them into their chromosomes, although only a few (the gram-positive and and the gram-negative ) had been studied in any detail. The author's tests, using agents that produced single-strand or double-strand damage, showed that DNA damage did not induce competence in either or . Proponents of the transformation function for competence argue that the sequence bias of the uptake machinery is an adaptation for transformation.

Citation: Redfield R. 2011. Three Histories of Competence and Transformation, p 277-289. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch28

Key Concept Ranking

DNA Synthesis
0.4844259
Genetic Elements
0.4844259
Genetic Recombination
0.47903958
Chromosomal DNA
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Figures

Image of FIGURE 1
FIGURE 1

Sexual reproduction in eukaryotes. Two haploid cells fuse, creating a diploid cell. Later meiotic division produces new haploid cells with new combinations of the alleles from the original haploids. These or their descendants later fuse with other haploid cells. (Illustration hand drawn by author.)

Citation: Redfield R. 2011. Three Histories of Competence and Transformation, p 277-289. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch28
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Image of FIGURE 2
FIGURE 2

Three ways that bacterial genes can be moved from one cell to another. (Illustration hand drawn by author.)

Citation: Redfield R. 2011. Three Histories of Competence and Transformation, p 277-289. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch28
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Image of FIGURE 3
FIGURE 3

Different ways that DNA uptake can change cell fitness. (Illustration hand drawn by author.)

Citation: Redfield R. 2011. Three Histories of Competence and Transformation, p 277-289. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch28
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Image of FIGURE 4
FIGURE 4

uptake signal sequence motif. (Illustration hand drawn by author.)

Citation: Redfield R. 2011. Three Histories of Competence and Transformation, p 277-289. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch28
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Image of FIGURE 5
FIGURE 5

Uptake and translocation of circular and linear DNAs. (Illustration hand drawn by author.)

Citation: Redfield R. 2011. Three Histories of Competence and Transformation, p 277-289. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch28
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Download as Powerpoint
Image of FIGURE 6
FIGURE 6

Phylogenetic distribution of natural competence. (Illustration hand drawn by author.)

Citation: Redfield R. 2011. Three Histories of Competence and Transformation, p 277-289. In Maloy S, Hughes K, Casadesús J (ed), The Lure of Bacterial Genetics. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816810.ch28
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References

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1. Chen, I., and, D. Dubnau. 2004. DNA uptake during bacterial transformation. Nature Rev. Microbiol. 2:241249.
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10. Redfield, R. J. 1988. Evolution of bacterial transformation: is sex with dead cells ever better than no sex at all? Genetics 119:213221.
11. Redfield, R. J. 1993. Evolution of natural transformation: testing the DNA repair hypothesis in Bacillus subtilis and Haemophilus influenzae. Genetics 133:755761.
12. Redfield, R. J. 1993. Genes for breakfast: the have-your-cake-and-eat-it-too of bacterial transformation. J. Hered. 84:400404.
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