Regulation of competence-mediated horizontal gene transfer in the natural habitat of Vibrio cholerae

The human pathogen Vibrio cholerae is an autochthonous inhabitant of aquatic environments where it often interacts with zooplankton and their chitinous molts. Chitin induces natural competence for transformation in V. cholerae, a key mode of horizontal gene transfer (HGT). Recent comparative genomic analyses were indicative of extensive HGT in this species. However, we can still expand our understanding of the complex regulatory network that drives competence in V. cholerae. Here, we present recent advances, including the elucidation of bipartite competence regulation mediated by QstR, the inclusion of the type VI secretion system in the competence regulon of pandemic O1 El Tor strains, and the identification of TfoS as a transcriptional regulator that links chitin to competence induction in V. cholerae


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