Virulence protein VirD5 of Agrobacterium tumefaciens binds to kinetochores in host cells via an interaction with Spt4 [Microbiology]
The bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens causes crown gall tumor formation in plants. During infection the bacteria translocate an oncogenic piece of DNA (transferred DNA, T-DNA) into plant cells at the infection site. A number of virulence proteins are cotransported into host cells concomitantly with the T-DNA to effectuate transformation. Using yeast as a model host, we find that one of these proteins, VirD5, localizes to the centromeres/kinetochores in the nucleus of the host cells by its interaction with the conserved protein Spt4. VirD5 promotes chromosomal instability as seen by the high-frequency loss of a minichromosome in yeast. By using both yeast and plant cells with a chromosome that was specifically marked by a lacO repeat, chromosome segregation errors and the appearance of aneuploid cells due to the presence of VirD5 could be visualized in vivo. Thus, VirD5 is a prokaryotic virulence protein that interferes with mitosis.
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