Conjugation factor of Agrobacterium tumefaciens regulates Ti plasmid transfer by autoinduction

Nature. 1993 Apr 1;362(6419):448-50. doi: 10.1038/362448a0.


Conjugal transfer of Ti plasmids from Agrobacterium donors to bacterial recipients is controlled by two types of diffusible signal molecules. Induction is mediated by novel compounds, called opines, that are secreted by crown gall tumours. These neoplasias result from infection of susceptible plants by virulent agrobacteria. The second diffusible signal, called conjugation factor, is synthesized by the donor bacteria themselves. Production of this factor is induced by the opine. Here we show that conjugation is regulated directly by a transcriptional activator, TraR, which requires conjugation factor as a coinducer to activate tra gene expression. TraR is a homologue of LuxR, the lux gene activator from Vibrio fischeri which also requires an endogenously synthesized diffusible coinducer. The two regulatory systems are related; the two activator proteins show amino-acid sequence similarities and the lux system cofactor, autoinducer, will substitute for conjugation factor in the TraR-dependent activation of Ti plasmid tra genes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Agrobacterium tumefaciens / genetics*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Conjugation, Genetic*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • DNA, Bacterial / isolation & purification
  • Genes, Bacterial
  • Homoserine / analogs & derivatives*
  • Homoserine / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Open Reading Frames
  • Plasmids*
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Repressor Proteins*
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Trans-Activators*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics
  • beta-Galactosidase / metabolism


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins
  • Repressor Proteins
  • TraR protein, Agrobacterium tumefaciens
  • Trans-Activators
  • Transcription Factors
  • LuxR autoinducer binding proteins
  • N-(beta-oxooctan-1-oyl)homoserine lactone
  • Homoserine
  • beta-Galactosidase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/Z15003