The mating pilus of E. coli pED208 acts as a conduit for ssDNA during horizontal gene transfer

Leticia Beltrán, Holly Torsilieri, Jonasz B Patkowski, Jie E Yang, James Casanova, Tiago R D Costa, Elizabeth R Wright, Edward H Egelman


Bacteria are constantly exchanging DNA, which constitutes horizontal gene transfer. While some of these occurs by a non-specific process called natural transformation, some occurs by a specific mating between a donor and a recipient cell. In specific conjugation, the mating pilus is extended from the donor cell to make contact with the recipient cell, but whether DNA is actually transferred through this pilus or by another mechanism involving the type IV secretion system complex without the pilus has been an open question. Using