RRC ID 35355
Author Etchuuya R, Ito M, Kitano S, Shigi F, Sobue R, Maeda S.
Title Cell-to-cell transformation in Escherichia coli: a novel type of natural transformation involving cell-derived DNA and a putative promoting pheromone.
Journal PLoS One
Abstract Escherichia coli is not assumed to be naturally transformable. However, several recent reports have shown that E. coli can express modest genetic competence in certain conditions that may arise in its environment. We have shown previously that spontaneous lateral transfer of non-conjugative plasmids occurs in a colony biofilm of mixed E. coli strains (a set of a donor strain harbouring a plasmid and a plasmid-free recipient strain). In this study, with high-frequency combinations of strains and a plasmid, we constructed the same lateral plasmid transfer system in liquid culture. Using this system, we demonstrated that this lateral plasmid transfer was DNase-sensitive, indicating that it is a kind of transformation in which DNase-accessible extracellular naked DNA is essential. However, this transformation did not occur with purified plasmid DNA and required a direct supply of plasmid from co-existing donor cells. Based on this feature, we have termed this transformation type as 'cell-to-cell transformation'. Analyses using medium conditioned with the high-frequency strain revealed that this strain released a certain factor(s) that promoted cell-to-cell transformation and arrested growth of the other strains. This factor is heat-labile and protease-sensitive, and its roughly estimated molecular mass was between ∼9 kDa and ∼30 kDa, indicating that it is a polypeptide factor. Interestingly, this factor was effective even when the conditioned medium was diluted 10(-5)-10(-6), suggesting that it acts like a pheromone with high bioactivity. Based on these results, we propose that cell-to-cell transformation is a novel natural transformation mechanism in E. coli that requires cell-derived DNA and is promoted by a peptide pheromone. This is the first evidence that suggests the existence of a peptide pheromone-regulated transformation mechanism in E. coli and in Gram-negative bacteria.
Volume 6(1)
Pages e16355
Published 2011-1-20
DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0016355
PMID 21283723
PMC PMC3024429
MeSH Biofilms Culture Media, Conditioned DNA, Bacterial / genetics* Escherichia coli / genetics* Gram-Negative Bacteria Pheromones / genetics* Plasmids Transformation, Bacterial*
IF 2.776
Times Cited 24
Prokaryotes E. coli ME9033(DH5) ME7986(MG1655) ME8568(HB101) MC4100? ME8788(CAG1839) ME8584(KF1225) ME8867(CAG12185) ME8845(CAG18475) ME8884(CAG18420) ME9572(AQ9950) ME9062(BW25113)(Keio) pHSG299 pHSG399 pGBM1 pUC19 pSE111