Plant cell transformation by Agrobacterium tumefaciens involves the transfer of a single-stranded DNA-protein complex (T-complex) from the bacterium to the plant cell. One of the least understood and important aspects of this process is how the T-complex exits the bacterium. The eleven virB gene products have been proposed to specify the DNA export channel on the basis of their predicted hydrophobicity. To determine the cellular localization of the VirB proteins, two different cell fractionation methods were employed to separate inner and outer membranes. Seven VirB-specific antibodies were used on Western blots (immunoblots) to detect the proteins in the inner and outer membranes and soluble (containing cytoplasm and periplasm) fractions. VirB5 was in both the inner membrane and cytoplasm. Six of the VirB proteins were detected in the membrane fractions only. Three of these, VirB8, VirB9, and VirB10, were present in both inner and outer membrane fractions regardless of the fractionation method used. Three additional VirB proteins, VirB1, VirB4, and VirB11, were found mainly in the inner membrane fraction by one method and were found in both inner and outer membrane fractions by a second method. These results confirm the membrane localization of seven VirB proteins and strengthen the hypothesis that VirB proteins are involved in the formation of a T-DNA export channel or gate. That most of the VirB proteins analyzed are found in both inner and outer membrane fractions suggest that they form a complex pore structure that spans both membranes, and their relative amounts in the two membrane fractions reflect their differential sensitivity to the experimental conditions.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology