Mating pair stabilization mediates bacterial conjugation species specificity

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Title: Mating pair stabilization mediates bacterial conjugation species specificity
Authors: Low, WW
Wong, J
Beltran, L
Seddon, C
David, S
Kwong, H-S
Bizeau, T
Wang, F
Pena, A
Costa, TRD
Pham, B
Chen, M
Egelman, E
Beis, K
Frankel, G
Item Type: Journal Article
Abstract: Bacterial conjugation mediates contact-dependent transfer of DNA from donor to recipient bacteria, thus facilitating the spread of virulence and resistance plasmids. Here we describe how variants of the plasmid-encoded donor outer membrane (OM) protein TraN cooperate with distinct OM receptors in recipients to mediate mating pair stabilization and efficient DNA transfer. We show that TraN from the plasmids pKpQIL (Klebsiella pneumoniae), R100-1 (Shigella flexneri) and pSLT (Salmonella Typhimurium), and the prototypical F plasmid (Escherichia coli) interact with OmpK36, OmpW and OmpA, respectively. Cryo-EM analysis revealed that TraN pKpQIL interacts with OmpK36 through the insertion of a β-hairpin in the tip of TraN into a monomer of the OmpK36 trimer. Combining bioinformatic analysis with AlphaFold structural predictions, we identified a fourth TraN structural variant that mediates mating pair stabilization by binding OmpF. Accordingly, we devised a classifica- tion scheme for TraN homologues on the basis of structural similarity and their associated receptors: TraNα (OmpW), TraNβ (OmpK36), TraNγ (OmpA), TraNδ (OmpF). These TraN-OM receptor pairings have real-world implications as they reflect the distribution of resistance plasmids within clinical Enterobacteriaceae isolates, demonstrating the importance of mating pair stabilization in mediating conjugation species specificity. These findings will allow us to predict the distribution of emerging resistance plasmids in high-risk bacterial pathogens.
Issue Date: 13-Jun-2022
Date of Acceptance: 5-May-2022
DOI: 10.1038/s41564-022-01146-4
ISSN: 2058-5276
Publisher: Nature Research
Start Page: 1016
End Page: 1027
Journal / Book Title: Nature Microbiology
Volume: 7
Copyright Statement: © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons license, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons license and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this license, visit
Sponsor/Funder: Medical Research Council (MRC)
Funder's Grant Number: MR/N020103/1
Keywords: Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
0605 Microbiology
1108 Medical Microbiology
Publication Status: Published
Online Publication Date: 2022-06-13
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Natural Sciences