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Conjugation Operons in Gram-Positive Bacteria with and without Antitermination Systems

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Ling Juan Wu



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. Genes involved in the same cellular process are often clustered together in an operon whose expression is controlled by an upstream promoter. Generally, the activity of the promoter is strictly controlled. However, spurious transcription undermines this strict regulation, particularly affecting large operons. The negative effects of spurious transcription can be mitigated by the presence of multiple terminators inside the operon, in combination with an antitermination system. Antitermination systems modify the transcription elongation complexes and enable them to bypass terminators. Bacterial conjugation is the process by which a conjugative DNA element is transferred from a donor to a recipient cell. Conjugation involves many genes that are mostly organized in one or a few large operons. It has recently been shown that many conjugation operons present on plasmids replicating in Gram-positive bacteria possess a bipartite antitermination system that allows not only many terminators inside the conjugation operon to be bypassed, but also the differential expression of a subset of genes. Here, we show that some conjugation operons on plasmids belonging to the Inc18 family of Gram-positive broad host-range plasmids do not possess an antitermination system, suggesting that the absence of an antitermination system may have advantages. The possible (dis)advantages of conjugation operons possessing (or not) an antitermination system are discussed.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Miguel-Arribas A, Wu LJ, Michaelis C, Yoshida K-I, Grohmann E, Meijer WJJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Microorganisms

Year: 2022

Volume: 10

Issue: 3

Online publication date: 08/03/2022

Acceptance date: 04/03/2022

Date deposited: 22/03/2022

ISSN (electronic): 2076-2607

Publisher: MDPI AG


DOI: 10.3390/microorganisms10030587


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Funder referenceFunder name
(PID2019-108778GB-C21 (AEI/FEDER, EU)