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Molecular mechanisms of bacterial gene transfer

Molecular mechanisms of bacterial gene transfer
Bacterial gene transfer constitutes a remarkable medical problem since antibiotic resistance and virulence traits are transferred between bacteria. In a process called transformation, bacteria take up naked DNA from the environment. The first step to transformation is the transport of DNA through the cell envelope. Macromolecular translocation through nanometer-sized pores is a ubiquitous theme in cell biology and a challenging problem in physics. For efficient transport, we suggest, that a molecular machine pulls the DNA molecule through the cell envelope. We are using a combination of single molecule techniques and genetic manipulations for deciphering the molecular mechanism of DNA import. We have developed two different techniques that allow us to watch how a bacterium takes up a single DNA molecule. Using laser tweezers, the import kinetics is accessible at well-defined external forces. Using time-lapse fluorescence microscopy, we quantify the spatio-temporal dynamics of fluorescently labeled DNA during import.

Biophysics (Cologne):
Berenike Maier

Copyright: University of Cologne