DNA Transport across the Outer and Inner Membranes of Naturally Transformable Vibrio cholerae Is Spatially but Not Temporally Coupled
The physiological state of natural competence for transformation allows certain bacteria to take up free DNA from the environment and to recombine such newly acquired DNA into their chromosomes. However, even though conserved components that are required to undergo natural transformation have been identified in several naturally competent bacteria, our knowledge of the underlying mechanisms of the DNA uptake process remains very limited. To better understand these mechanisms, we investigated the competence-mediated DNA transport in the naturally transformable pathogen Vibrio cholerae. Previously, we used a cell biology-based approach to experimentally address an existing hypothesis, which suggested the competence protein ComEA plays a role in the DNA uptake process across the outer membrane of Gram-negative bacteria. Here, we extended this knowledge by investigating the dynamics of DNA translocation across both membranes. More precisely, we indirectly visualized the transfer of the external DNA from outside the cell into the periplasm followed by the shuttling of the DNA into the cytoplasm. Based on these data, we conclude that for V. cholerae, the DNA translocation across the outer and inner membranes is spatially but not temporally coupled.