The conjugative transfer of Agrobacterium plasmids is controlled by a quorum-sensing system consisting of TraR and its acyl-homoserine lactone (HSL) ligand. The acyl-HSL is essential for the TraR-mediated activation of the Ti plasmid Tra genes. Strains A6 and C58 of Agrobacterium tumefaciens produce a lactonase, BlcC (AttM), that can degrade the quormone, leading some to conclude that the enzyme quenches the quorum-sensing system. We tested this hypothesis by examining the effects of the mutation, induction, or mutational derepression of blcC on the accumulation of acyl-HSL and on the conjugative competence of strain C58. The induction of blc resulted in an 8-to 10-fold decrease in levels of extracellular acyl-HSL but in only a twofold decrease in intracellular quormone levels, a measure of the amount of active intracellular TraR. The induction or mutational derepression of blc as well as a null mutation in blcC had no significant effect on the induction of or continued transfer of pTiC58 from donors in any stage of growth, including stationary phase. In matings performed in developing tumors, wild-type C58 transferred the Ti plasmid to recipients, yielding transconjugants by 14 to 21 days following infection. blcC-null donors yielded transconjugants 1 week earlier, but by the following week, transconjugants were recovered at numbers indistinguishable from those of the wild type. Donors mutationally derepressed for blcC yielded transconjugants in planta at numbers 10-fold lower than those for the wild type at weeks 2 and 3, but by week 4, the two donors showed no difference in recoverable transconjugants. We conclude that BlcC has no biologically significant effect on Ti plasmid transfer or its regulatory system.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology