Publication Date





Two phylogenetically distantly-related IncF plasmids, F and pED208, serve as important models for mechanistic and structural studies of F-like type IV secretion systems (T4SSFs) and F pili. Here, we present the pED208 sequence and compare it to F and pUMNF18, the closest match to pED208 in the NCBI database. As expected, gene content of the three cargo regions varies extensively, although the maintenance/leading regions (MLRs) and transfer (Tra) regions also carry novel genes or motifs with predicted modulatory effects on plasmid stability, dissemination and host range. By use of a Cre recombinase assay for translocation (CRAfT), we recently reported that pED208-carrying donors translocate several products of the MLR (ParA, ParB1, ParB2, SSB, PsiB, PsiA) intercellularly through the T4SSF. Here, we extend these findings by reporting that pED208-carrying donors translocate 10 additional MLR proteins during conjugation. In contrast, two F plasmid-encoded toxin components of toxin-antitoxin (TA) modules, CcdB and SrnB, were not translocated at detectable levels through the T4SSF. Remarkably, most or all of the pED208-encoded MLR proteins and CcdB and SrnB were translocated through heterologous T4SSs encoded by IncN and IncP plasmids pKM101 and RP4, respectively. Together, our sequence analyses underscore the genomic diversity of the F plasmid superfamily, and our experimental data demonstrate the promiscuous nature of conjugation machines for protein translocation. Our findings raise intriguing questions about the nature of T4SS translocation signals and of the biological and evolutionary consequences of conjugative protein transfer.


Conjugation, Type IV secretion, F plasmid, Mobile genetic elements, Protein translocation, Horizontal gene transfer, Antibiotic resistance



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.