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Structural basis of cooperative DNA recognition by the plasmid conjugation factor, TraM

By Joyce J. W. Wong, Jun Lu, Ross A. Edwards, Laura S. Frost and J. N. Mark Glover

Abstract

The conjugative transfer of F-like plasmids such as F, R1, R100 and pED208, between bacterial cells requires TraM, a plasmid-encoded DNA-binding protein. TraM tetramers bridge the origin of transfer (oriT) to a key component of the conjugative pore, the coupling protein TraD. Here we show that TraM recognizes a high-affinity DNA-binding site, sbmA, as a cooperative dimer of tetramers. The crystal structure of the TraM–sbmA complex from the plasmid pED208 shows that binding cooperativity is mediated by DNA kinking and unwinding, without any direct contact between tetramers. Sequence-specific DNA recognition is carried out by TraM’s N-terminal ribbon–helix–helix (RHH) domains, which bind DNA in a staggered arrangement. We demonstrate that both DNA-binding specificity, as well as selective interactions between TraM and the C-terminal tail of its cognate TraD mediate conjugation specificity within the F-like family of plasmids. The ability of TraM to cooperatively bind DNA without interaction between tetramers leaves the C-terminal TraM tetramerization domains free to make multiple interactions with TraD, driving recruitment of the plasmid to the conjugative pore

Topics: Structural Biology
Publisher: Oxford University Press
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:3159463
Provided by: PubMed Central

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