Publication Date



EMBO J. 2007 May 16; 26(10): 2540–2551.


Agrobacterium tumefaciens translocates T-DNA through a polar VirB/D4 type IV secretion (T4S) system. VirC1, a factor required for efficient T-DNA transfer, bears a deviant Walker A and other sequence motifs characteristic of ParA and MinD ATPases. Here, we show that VirC1 promotes conjugative T-DNA transfer by stimulating generation of multiple copies per cell of the T-DNA substrate (T-complex) through pairwise interactions with the processing factors VirD2 relaxase, VirC2, and VirD1. VirC1 also associates with the polar membrane and recruits T-complexes to cell poles, the site of VirB/D4 T4S machine assembly. VirC1 Walker A mutations abrogate T-complex generation and polar recruitment, whereas the native protein recruits T-complexes to cell poles independently of other polar processing factors (VirC2, VirD1) or T4S components (VirD4 substrate receptor, VirB channel subunits). We propose that A. tumefaciens has appropriated a progenitor ParA/MinD-like ATPase to promote conjugative DNA transfer by: (i) nucleating relaxosome assembly at oriT-like T-DNA border sequences and (ii) spatially positioning the transfer intermediate at the cell pole to coordinate substrate-T4S channel docking.


Adenosine Triphosphatases, Amino Acid Motifs, Amino Acid Sequence, Conjugation, Genetic, DNA, Bacterial, Escherichia coli, Glutathione Transferase, In Situ Hybridization, Fluorescence, Plasmids, Recombinant Proteins, Rhizobium radiobacter, Virulence Factors