Agrobacterium tumefaciens transfers T-DNA to plant cells, where it integrates into the genome, a property that is ensured by bacterial proteins VirD2 and VirE2. Under natural conditions, the protein MobA mobilizes its encoding plasmid, RSF1010, between different bacteria. A detailed analysis of MobA-mediated DNA mobilization by Agrobacterium to plants was performed. We compared the ability of MobA to transfer DNA and integrate it into the plant genome to that of pilot protein VirD2. MobA was found to be about 100-fold less efficient than VirD2 in conducting the DNA from the pTi plasmid to the plant cell nucleus. However, interestingly, DNAs transferred by the two proteins were integrated into the plant cell genome with similar efficiencies. In contrast, most of the integrated DNA copies transferred from a MobA-containing strain were truncated at the 5′ end. Isolation and analysis of the most conserved 5′ ends revealed patterns which resulted from the illegitimate integration of one transferred DNA within another. These complex integration patterns indicate a specific deficiency in MobA. The data conform to a model according to which efficiency of T-DNA integration is determined by plant enzymes and integrity is determined by bacterial proteins
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