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Summary

The relaxase of the plasmid R1162 is a large protein essential for conjugative transfer and containing two different and physically separate catalytic activities. The N-terminal half cleaves one of the DNA strands at the origin of transfer (oriT) and becomes covalently linked to the 5′ terminal phosphate; the C-terminal half is a primase essential for initiation of plasmid vegetative replication. We show here that the two parts of the protein are independently transported by the type IV pathway. Part of the domain containing the catalytic activity, as well as an adjacent region, is required in each case, but the required regions do not physically overlap. Both transport systems contribute to the overall frequency of conjugative transfer. MobB is a small protein, encoded within mobA but in a different reading frame, that stabilizes the relaxase at oriT. MobB is required for efficient type IV transport of both the complete relaxase and its two, separate functional halves. MobB inserts into the membrane and could thus stabilize the association between the relaxase and the type IV transfer apparatus.