Bacterial conjugation in the cytoplasm of mouse cells.
SourceInfection and Immunity, 76, 11, (2008), pp. 5110-5119
Article / Letter to editor
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Cell Biology (UMC)
Infection and Immunity
SubjectIGMD 8: Mitochondrial medicine; NCMLS 2: Metabolism, transport and motion
Intracellular pathogenic organisms such as salmonellae and shigellae are able to evade the effects of many antibiotics because the drugs are not able to penetrate the plasma membrane. In addition, these bacteria may be able to transfer genes within cells while protected from the action of drugs. The primary mode by which virulence and antibiotic resistance genes are spread is bacterial conjugation. Salmonellae have been shown to be competent for conjugation in the vacuoles of cultured mammalian cells. We now show that the conjugation machinery is also functional in the mammalian cytosol. Specially constructed Escherichia coli strains expressing Shigella flexneri plasmid and chromosomal virulence factors for escape from vacuoles and synthesizing the invasin protein from Yersinia pseudotuberculosis to enhance cellular entry were able to enter 3T3 cells and escape from the phagocytic vacuole. One bacterial strain (the donor) of each pair to be introduced sequentially into mammalian cells had a conjugative plasmid. We found that this plasmid could be transferred at high frequency. Conjugation in the cytoplasm of cells may well be a general phenomenon.
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