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Competence and natural transformation in vibrios

Authors

  • Yan Sun,

    1. Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Eberly College of Science, The Pennsylvania State University, 219 Wartik Lab, University Park, PA, USA
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    • Authors contributed equally to this work.
  • Eryn E. Bernardy,

    1. School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
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    • Authors contributed equally to this work.
  • Brian K. Hammer,

    Corresponding author
    • School of Biology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA, USA
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  • Tim Miyashiro

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Eberly College of Science, The Pennsylvania State University, 219 Wartik Lab, University Park, PA, USA
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For correspondence. E-mail tim14@psu.edu; Tel. (+1) 814 865 1916; Fax (+1) 814 863 7024; E-mail brian.hammer@biology.gatech.edu; Tel. (+1) 404 385 7701; Fax (+1) 404 894 0519.

Summary

Natural transformation is a major mechanism of horizontal gene transfer in bacteria. By incorporating exogenous DNA elements into chromosomes, bacteria are able to acquire new traits that can enhance their fitness in different environments. Within the past decade, numerous studies have revealed that natural transformation is prevalent among members of the Vibrionaceae, including the pathogen Vibrio cholerae. Four environmental factors: (i) nutrient limitation, (ii) availability of extracellular nucleosides, (iii) high cell density and (iv) the presence of chitin, promote genetic competence and natural transformation in Vibrio cholerae by co-ordinating expression of the regulators CRP, CytR, HapR and TfoX respectively. Studies of other Vibrionaceae members highlight the general importance of natural transformation within this bacterial family.

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