A bacterial recombination protein needed for gene transfer agent transduction

< Back to Articles

Mol Microbiol. 2014 Jun;92(6):1260-78. doi: 10.1111/mmi.12628. Epub 2014 May 21.

Rhodobacter capsulatus DprA is essential for RecA-mediated gene transfer agent (RcGTA) recipient capability regulated by quorum-sensing and the CtrA response regulator

Brimacombe CA1, Ding HBeatty JT.


Gene transfer agents (GTAs) are genetic exchange elements that resemble small DNA bacteriophages that transfer random pieces of the producing cell's genome to recipient cells. The best-studied GTA is that of Rhodobacter capsulatus, termed RcGTA. We discovered that the putative responseregulator CtrA, which is essential for RcGTA production, is required for RcGTA-mediated gene acquisition, and confirmed that a RecA homologue is required. It was also discovered that a DprA (DNA-protecting protein A) homologue is essential for RcGTA-mediated gene acquisition, and that dprAexpression is induced by gtaI-dependent quorum-sensing and non-phosphorylated CtrA. Modelling of the R. capsulatus DprA structure indicated the presence of a C-terminal region that resembles a dsDNA-binding protein domain. Purified His-tagged R. capsulatus DprA protein bound to both single-stranded (ss)DNA and double-stranded (ds)DNA, but with a greater affinity for ssDNA. Additionally, DprA protected dsDNA from endonuclease digestion, and increased the rate of nucleation of Escherichia coli RecA onto ssDNA. Single-cell expression analyses revealed that dprA is expressed in the majority of cells throughout a population. Overall, the results suggest that incorporation of RcGTA DNA into the recipient cell genome proceeds through a homologous recombination pathway resembling DNA recombination in natural transformation.

© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.