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The tra gene of Streptomyces lividans plasmid pIJ101 encodes a 621- amino-acid protein that can mediate both plasmid transfer and the interbacterial transfer of chromosomal genes (i.e., chromosome-mobilizing ability [Cma]) during mating. Here we report the results of in-frame insertional mutagenesis studies aimed at defining regions of Tra required for these functions. While hexameric linker insertions throughout the tra gene affected plasmid and chromosomal gene transfer, insertions in a 200-amino- acid region of the Tra protein that contains presumed nucleotide-binding motifs and that is widely conserved among a functionally diverse family of bacterial and plasmid proteins (K. J. Begg, S. J. Dewar, and W. D. Donachie, J. Bacteriol. 177:6211-6222, 1995) had especially prominent effects on both functions. Insertions near the N terminus of Tra reduced Cma for either circular or linear host chromosomes to a much greater extent than pIJ101 plasmid transfer. Our results suggest that Cma involves Tra functions incremental to those needed for plasmid DNA transfer.

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Journal of Bacteriology

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