The tra locus of streptomycete plasmid pIJ101 mediates efficient transfer of a circular but not a linear version of the same replicon
Conjugal transfer of circular plasmids in Streptomyces involves a unique mechanism employing few plasmid-encoded loci and the transfer of double-stranded DNA by an as yet uncharacterized intercellular route. Efficient transfer of the circular streptomycete plasmid pIJ101 requires only two plasmid loci: the pIJ101 tra gene, and as a cis-acting function known as clt. Here, we compared the ability of the pIJ101 transfer apparatus to promote conjugal transfer of circular versus linear versions of the same replicon. While the pIJ101 tra locus readily transferred the circular form of the replicon, the linear version was transferred orders of magnitude less efficiently and all plasmids isolated from the transconjugants were circular, regardless of their original configuration in the donor. Additionally, relatively rare circularization of linear plasmids was detectable in the donor cells, which is consistent with the notion that this event was a prerequisite for transfer by TraB(pIJ101). Linear versions of this same replicon did transfer efficiently, in that configuration, from strains containing the conjugative linear plasmid SLP2. Our data indicate that functions necessary and sufficient for transfer of circular DNA were insufficient for transfer of a related linear DNA molecule. The results here suggest that the conjugation mechanisms of linear versus circular DNA in Streptomyces spp. are inherently different and/or that efficient transfer of linear DNA requires additional components. © 2010 SGM.