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Unformatted text preview: Microreview Biological systems of the host cell involved in Agrobacterium infection Vitaly Citovsky, 1 Stanislav V. Kozlovsky, 1 Benoît Lacroix, 1 Adi Zaltsman, 1 Mery Dafny-Yelin, 2 Shachi Vyas, 2 Andriy Tovkach 2 and Tzvi Tzfira 2 * 1 Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, State University of New York, Stony Brook, NY 11794, USA. 2 Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI 48109, USA. Summary Genetic transformation of plants by Agrobacterium , which in nature causes neoplastic growths, repre- sents the only known case of trans-kingdom DNA transfer. Furthermore, under laboratory conditions, Agrobacterium can also transform a wide range of other eukaryotic species, from fungi to sea urchins to human cells. How can the Agrobacterium virulence machinery function in such a variety of evolutionarily distant and diverse species? The answer to this ques- tion lies in the ability of Agrobacterium to hijack fun- damental cellular processes which are shared by most eukaryotic organisms. Our knowledge of these host cellular functions is critical for understanding the molecular mechanisms that underlie genetic transformation of eukaryotic cells. This review out- lines the bacterial virulence machinery and provides a detailed discussion of seven major biological systems of the host cell–cell surface receptor arrays, cellular motors, nuclear import, chromatin targeting, targeted proteolysis, DNA repair, and plant immunity – thought to participate in the Agrobacterium- mediated genetic transformation. Introduction The ability of Agrobacterium to genetically transform a wide variety of plant species has earned it a place of honour in basic plant research and modern plant biotechnology. The transformation results from the pro- duction of a single-stranded copy (T-strand) of trans- ferred DNA (T-DNA) molecule by the bacterial virulence machinery, its transfer into the host cell followed by inte- gration into the host genome (for recent reviews, see Gelvin, 2003; McCullen and Binns, 2006). While wild- type Agrobacterium species are known as the causative agents of the ‘crown gall’ disease in a rather limited number of economically important plant species (e.g. Burr et al ., 1998), recombinant Agrobacterium strains are the tool-of-choice for production of genetically modified plants in a very broad range of species (Gelvin, 2003). Furthermore, Agrobacterium , at least under laboratory conditions, can transform other eukaryotic species, ranging from fungi to human cells (reviewed in Lacroix et al ., 2006a), which holds great promise for the future of biotechnology of non-plant species. This remarkably wide host range of Agrobacterium , which is in contrast to the relatively narrow host range of many other bacterial pathogens that are typically limited to specific species or genera – raises a question of how the Agrobacterium virulence machinery can function in evolutionarily distant and diverse species, crossing the interkingdom bound-...
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