Plasmid transfer and expression of the transfer (tra) gene product of plasmid plJ101 are temporally regulated during the Streptomyces lividans life cycle

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We previously have shown that a chromosomally integrated copy of the tra gene of plasmid plJ101 under the control of the KorA repressor protein, which regulates transcription of tra as well as its own synthesis, can promote the conjugal transfer of both chromosomal and plasmid genes in Streptomyces lividans. Using an antibody generated against a fusion protein containing the C-terminal portion of Tra, we show here that this essential conjugation protein is present in membrane fractions of both surface-grown S. lividans, which mate readily, and of cells grown in liquid culture, where mating has not been found. Expression of Tra during the S. lividans life cycle was temporally regulated and was reduced late during vegetative growth so that little or no Tra protein was detected in cells as they began to differentiate morphologically and produce secondary metabolites. Comparison of the membrane concentration of Tra protein with tra mRNA concentration during the S. lividans life cycle indicated that the disappearance of Tra is post-transcriptionally controlled and thus is not mediated by KorA. The results of 'interrupted mating' experiments, together with the time of appearance of Tra in S. lividans membranes, indicate that the intermycelial transfer of plJ101 in S. lividans is complete by the onset of cellular differentiation.

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Molecular Microbiology

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