Agrobacterium tumefaciens transfers T-DNA into the plant genome by a process mediated by Ti plasmid-encoded vir genes. Cleavage at T-DNA border sequences by the VirD endonuclease generates linear, single-stranded T-DNA molecules. In the work described in this report, we used electrophoretic mobility shift assays to show that the purified virE2 gene product binds to single-stranded DNA. VirE2 protein associates with T-DNA as shown by immunoprecipitation studies with VirE2-specific antiserum. The VirE2 protein was detected primarily in the cytoplasm, but also in the inner and outer membrane and periplasmic fractions. Virulence of a virE2 mutant was restored by mixed infection with strains carrying an intact vir region, but not with virA, virB, virD, virE, or virG mutants or chvA, chvB, or exoC mutants. We propose that the VirE2 protein is involved in the processing of T-DNA and in T-strand protection during transfer to the plant cell
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