Subcellular localization and functional domains of the coupling protein, TraG, from lncHl1 plasmid R27

James E. Gunton, Matthew W. Gilmour, Guillermina Alonso, Diane E. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Bacterial conjugation is a horizontal gene transfer event mediated by the type IV secretion system (T4SS) encoded by bacterial plasmids. Within the T4SS, the coupling protein plays an essential role in linking the membrane-associated pore-forming proteins to the cytoplasmic, DNA-processing proteins. TraG is the coupling protein encoded by the incompatibility group HI plasmids. A hallmark feature of the IncHI plasmids is optimal conjugative transfer at 30 °C and an inability to transfer at 37 °C. Transcriptional analysis of the transfer region 1 (Tra1) of R27 has revealed that traG is transcribed in a temperature-dependent manner, with significantly reduced levels of expression at 37 °C as compared to expression at 30 °C. The R27 coupling protein contains nucleoside triphosphate (NTP)-binding domains, the Walker A and Walker B boxes, which are well conserved among this family of proteins. Site-specific mutagenesis within these motifs abrogated the conjugative transfer of R27 into recipient cells. Mutational analysis of the TraG periplasmic-spanning residues, in conjunction with bacterial two-hybrid and immunoprecipitation analysis, determined that this region is essential for a successful interaction with the T4SS protein TrhB. Further characterization of TraG by immunofluorescence studies revealed that the R27 coupling protein forms membrane-associated fluorescent foci independent of R27 conjugative proteins. These foci were found at discrete positions within the cell periphery. These results allow the definition of domains within TraG that are involved in conjugative transfer, and determination of the cellular location of the R27 coupling protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3549-3561
Number of pages13
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2005

Cite this