Nine contiguous genes encoding a potential type IV secretion system have been identified in the chromosome of strain VT747 and on a plasmid (pVT745) in strain VT745. Seven of these genes encode predicted proteins that share significant homology with type IV secretion proteins in ( operon), biovar and ( operons), where they are involved in protein secretion, pathogen intracellular survival and multiplication, and DNA transport, respectively. Results of previous studies have demonstrated that pVT745 is a conjugative plasmid and that a secondary plasmid, pMMB67, can be mobilized from strain VT745. Given these results, it was hypothesized that (1) the type IV secretion genes on pVT745 are responsible for these two functions and (2) the type IV VT747 chromosomal genes also play a role in the transport of DNA. Wild-type and mutant strains of VT745 were evaluated for their conjugative abilities. Wild-type mating efficiency was 10 transconjugants per donor, while the mutant strain yielded no transconjugants. Wild-type VT745 harbouring a co-resident plasmid, pMMB67, mobilized pMMB67 at a frequency of 10, while VT747 was unable to mobilize this plasmid. These results support the hypothesis that the plasmid-encoded type IV secretion system on pVT745 is involved in DNA transport. However, the chromosomally encoded secretion system may not play a role in DNA transport in strain VT747. While the precise function of these chromosomal genes in strain VT747 has not been determined, Northern blot analyses demonstrated that these genes are expressed in both strains VT745 and VT747.


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