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Inhibition of VirB-mediated transfer of diverse substrates from Agrobacterium tumefaciens by the IncQ plasmid RSF1010.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology


The transfer of DNA from Agrobacterium tumefaciens into a plant cell requires the activities of several virulence (vir) genes that reside on the tumor-inducing (Ti) plasmid. The putative transferred intermediate is a single-stranded DNA (T strand), covalently attached to the VirD2 protein and coated with the single-stranded DNA-binding protein, VirE2. The movement of this intermediate out of Agrobacterium cells and into plant cells requires the expression of the virB operon, which encodes 11 proteins that localize to the membrane system. Our earlier studies showed that the IncQ broad-host-range plasmid RSF1010, which can be transferred from Agrobacterium cells to plant cells, inhibits the transfer of T-DNA from pTiA6 in a fashion that is reversed by overexpression of virB9, virB10, and virB11. Here, we examined the specificity of this inhibition by following the transfer of other T-DNA molecules. By using extracellular complementation assays, the effects of RSF1010 on movement of either VirE2 or an uncoated T strand from A. tumefaciens were also monitored. The RSF1010 derivative plasmid pJW323 drastically inhibited the capacity of strains to serve as VirE2 donors but only partially inhibited T-strand transfer from virE2 mutants. Further, we show that all the virB genes tested are required for the movement of VirE2 and the uncoated T strand as assayed by extracellular complementation. Our results are consistent with a model in which the RSF1010 plasmid, or intermediates from it, compete with the T strand and VirE2 for a common transport site.

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