Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Mobility of the Native Bacillus subtilis Conjugative Plasmid pLS20 Is Regulated by Intercellular Signaling

Lookup NU author(s): Praveen Singh, Dr Ling Juan Wu



Horizontal gene transfer mediated by plasmid conjugation plays a significant role in the evolution of bacterial species, as well as in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance and pathogenicity determinants. Characterization of their regulation is important for gaining insights into these features. Relatively little is known about how conjugation of Gram-positive plasmids is regulated. We have characterized conjugation of the native Bacillus subtilis plasmid pLS20. Contrary to the enterococcal plasmids, conjugation of pLS20 is not activated by recipient-produced pheromones but by pLS20-encoded proteins that regulate expression of the conjugation genes. We show that conjugation is kept in the default "OFF'' state and identified the master repressor responsible for this. Activation of the conjugation genes requires relief of repression, which is mediated by an anti-repressor that belongs to the Rap family of proteins. Using both RNA sequencing methodology and genetic approaches, we have determined the regulatory effects of the repressor and anti-repressor on expression of the pLS20 genes. We also show that the activity of the anti-repressor is in turn regulated by an intercellular signaling peptide. Ultimately, this peptide dictates the timing of conjugation. The implications of this regulatory mechanism and comparison with other mobile systems are discussed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Singh PK, Ramachandran G, Ramos-Ruiz R, Peiro-Pastor R, Abia D, Wu LJ, Meijer WJJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: PLoS Genetics

Year: 2013

Volume: 9

Issue: 10

Online publication date: 31/10/2013

Acceptance date: 05/09/2013

Date deposited: 04/11/2014

ISSN (electronic): 1553-7404

Publisher: Public Library of Science


DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003892


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric


Funder referenceFunder name
Spanish Research Council (CSIC)
098374/Z/12/ZWellcome Trust
BFU2008-04034/BMCMinistry of Science and Innovation of the Spanish Government