Little is known concerning the mechanism involved in cell contact between the donor and recipient during conjugation in The formation of stable mating pairs during conjugation in appears to require a specific protein as well as LPS in the outer membrane of the recipient cell. To attempt to identify the cell surface components necessary for conjugation in the neisseriae, we began a comparison of the outer membrane of strains that can (Con) and cannot (Con) serve as recipients in conjugation with There were no differences in outer-membrane protein profiles on SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis between Con and Con strains that could be correlated with the ability to conjugate. However, whole outer membrane isolated from Con strains specifically inhibited conjugation while those from Con strains did not. Proteolytic cleavage of outer-membrane proteins by trypsin, pronase or α-chymotrypsin abolished the inhibitory effect of Con outer membranes, suggesting that these outer membranes contained a protease-sensitive protein(s) involved in conjugation. Although periodate oxidation of Con outer-membrane carbohydrates did not abolish the inhibitory action of these membranes, purified LPS from both Con and Con strains inhibited conjugation when added at low concentrations. These results suggest that conjugation requires the presence of a specific conjugal receptor that consists of both LPS and one or more outer-membrane proteins. Both Con and Con strains contain the necessary LPS, but only Con strains contain the required protein(s).


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