Transcriptional regulation of pWW0 transfer genes in Pseudomonas putida KT2440

L.M. Lambertsen, Søren Molin, N. Kroer, C.M. Thomas

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The conjugative IncP-9 plasmid pWW0 (TOL) carries transfer genes, many of whose functions can be predicted from sequence similarities to the well-studied IncW and IncP-1 plasmids, and that are clustered with the replication and maintenance genes of the plasmid core. In this study we show that the IncP-9 transfer genes are transcribed from at least three promoter regions. The promoters for traA and traD act divergently from the region found to encode the origin of transfer, oriT. These promoters regulate expression of traA, B, and perhaps traC in one direction and traD in the other, all of whose gene products are predicted to be involved in relaxasome formation and DNA processing during transfer, and they are repressed by TraA. The third promoter region, upstream of mpfR, is responsible for transcription of mpfR and mpfA to mpfJ, encoding proteins involved in mating pair formation. Transcription from this region is negatively autoregulated by MpfR. Thus the pWWO transfer genes, like those of the IncP-1 plasmids, are expressed at all times, but kept in control by a negative feed back loop to limit the metabolic burden on the host. Although many of the related mating pair formation systems are, as in pWWO, transcribed divergently from an operon for replication and/or stable inheritance functions, MpfR is not related to the known regulatory proteins of these other transfer systems outside those of the IncP-9 family and indeed the regulators tend to be specific for each plasmid family. This suggests that the general pattern of genetic organisation exhibited by these systems has arisen a number of times independently and must therefore be highly favourable to plasmid survival and spread.
    Original languageEnglish
    Issue number3
    Pages (from-to)169-181
    Publication statusPublished - 2004


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