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Heterologous deoxyribonucleic acid uptake and complexing with cellular constituents in competent Bacillus subtilis.

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  • Research Article


With competent cultures of Bacillus subtilis the uptake of Escherichia coli deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is about 50% that for homologous DNA. Uptake of phage T6 DNA, if any, is of the order of 7%, while nonglucosylated phage T6 (T6) DNA is taken up almost as effectively as homologous DNA. Both T6 and T4 DNA interfere only minimally with uptake of homologous DNA; by contrast, T6 DNA competes with homologous DNA as effectively as the latter itself. These results indicate that the glucose residues in the T-even phage DNA, located in the large groove of the DNA helix, reduce affinity for cellular receptors, leading to low binding of T6 DNA. The latter DNA is considerably less degraded by extracellular nucleases than homologous DNA, thus excluding enzymatic hydrolysis as the source of poor uptake. Affinity of DNA for competent cells was also evaluated by the formation, and detection in a CsCl density gradient, of complexes of DNA with cellular constituent(s). Such comlexes, similar to those previously observed with transforming DNA, are formed by E. coli DNA and T6 DNA; in reconstruction experiments the denatured forms of these same DNA samples form complexes when added to the cells before lysis. T6 DNA, on the other hand, does not form such a complex. The possible role of such complexes in transport of DNA to the cell interior is discussed.

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