A mobile genetic element increases bacterial host fitness by manipulating development [article]

Joshua M Jones, Ilana Grinberg, Avigdor Eldar, Alan D Grossman
2020 bioRxiv   pre-print
Horizontal gene transfer is a major force in bacterial evolution. Mobile genetic elements are responsible for much of horizontal gene transfer and also carry beneficial cargo genes. Uncovering strategies used by mobile genetic elements to benefit host cells is crucial for understanding their stability and spread in populations. We describe a benefit that ICEBs1, an integrative and conjugative element of Bacillus subtilis, provides to its host cells. Activation of ICEBs1 conferred a
more » ... endent selective advantage to host cells during two different developmental processes: biofilm formation and sporulation. These benefits were due to inhibition of biofilm-associated gene expression and delayed sporulation by ICEBs1-containing cells, enabling them to exploit their neighbors and grow more prior to development. A single ICEBs1 gene, devI (formerly ydcO), was both necessary and sufficient for inhibition of development. Manipulation of host developmental programs allows ICEBs1 to increase host fitness, thereby increasing propagation of the element.
doi:10.1101/2020.10.09.328104 fatcat:nbhhedn72fbwrglscmy57y72da