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Chapter 10 : Conjugation in Gram-Positive Bacteria

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Abstract:

This chapter discusses conjugative systems in various gram-positive genera, and includes some discussion of conjugative transposons insofar as they assume a plasmid-like (circular) intermediate structure during movement. The pheromone-responding plasmids, which frequently encode antibiotic resistance traits as well as the production of cytolysins or bacteriocins, are commonly found in . The plasmids that have been studied in the greatest detail with respect to regulation of the pheromone response are pADl, pCFlO, pPDl, and pAM373. The hemolysin/bactcriocin (cytolysin)-encoding plasmids exemplified by the well-characterized pADl represent a large and globally disseminated family of pheromone-responding plasmids. Analysis of the sequence suggests an important role for insertion sequence elements in its evolution insofar as the conjugation genes, bacteriocin production genes, and bacteriophage resistance and plasmid maintenance functions are organized in three different regions separated by insertion sequence elements. The mob-oriT region is essential for the pBC16 mobilization by several other conjugative plasmids, such as pLS20, pHT73, or pAW63, and represents functions generally required for the transfer of mobilizable plasmids by self-transmissible plasmids in gram-negative and other gram-positive bacteria. The growing problem of multiple antibiotic resistance among human and animal pathogens is a classic example of how quickly horizontal gene transfer can relate to serious health issues.

Citation: Clewell D, Francia M. 2004. Conjugation in Gram-Positive Bacteria, p 227-256. In Funnell B, Phillips G (ed), Plasmid Biology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817732.ch10

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Figure 10

Model illustrating apparent control circuitry that for similar behavior is exhibited by the pAD1 and pCF10 pheromone response. P is a primary promoter that is active to some extent even in the uninduced state, giving rise to m3 (for pAD1) and Qs (for pCF10), which are terminated at at t/IRS1 (noted as 1). Induction results in up-regulation from P, which gives rise to significant amounts of m3* (for pAD1) and QL (for pCF10), which are terminated at t/IRS2 (noted as 2). Induction also results in extension through t/IRS2 and into regions that include determinants that positively regulate conjugation genes. The positive regulators appear to differ significantly for the two plasmids. The short component of the leftward-reading transcript represents mD (for pAD1) and Qa (for pCF10), which are expressed under the P promoter and, at least in the case of pAD1, enhance termination at t. P is also believed to influence expression of TraA/PrgX, which negatively regulates expression from P and is able to bind to pheromone. Expression from P is down-regulated upon induction. Redrawn from reference with permission.

Citation: Clewell D, Francia M. 2004. Conjugation in Gram-Positive Bacteria, p 227-256. In Funnell B, Phillips G (ed), Plasmid Biology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817732.ch10
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Figure 2

Map of Tn (18 kb). The numbers refer to previously defined ORFs ( ). Apparent relationships with genes/ORFs in the database are noted and also discussed in reference .

Citation: Clewell D, Francia M. 2004. Conjugation in Gram-Positive Bacteria, p 227-256. In Funnell B, Phillips G (ed), Plasmid Biology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555817732.ch10
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