Genetic Organization of Transfer-Related Determinants on the Sex Factor F and Related Plasmids

  • Karin Ippen-Ihler
  • Ronald A. Skurray


The bacterial conjugation system encoded by the F sex factor was the first to be described and subjected to detailed genetic and molecular analysis (for recent reviews see 88 and 167, and for earlier reviews and articles see Chapter 1 of this volume). Because of this, F-mediated conjugation has dominated much of our thinking about conjugal DNA transfer mechanisms and has certainly taken “pride of place” in textbooks as the model to present to undergraduates in microbial genetics. The F-conjugation system gained even further significance when it was recognized that F was only one of a large group of plasmids that encode a common transfer mechanism. The F-like plasmids, many of which carry determinants of importance in human and veterinary medicine, for example, for antibiotic resistance and for toxin and hemolysin production (Table 2.1), were originally grouped together on the basis of the sex pili that hosts carrying them elaborated. These pili were morphologically and serologically similar to those encoded by F and rendered the host susceptible to F- or “male-specific” phages. The plasmids were later classified on the basis of incompatibility (Inc) (Table 2.1); two plasmids in the same Inc group could not both stably coexist in the same host cell (33).


Recipient Cell Periplasmic Protein Transfer Region Integration Host Factor Pilin Subunit 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Karin Ippen-Ihler
    • 1
  • Ronald A. Skurray
    • 2
  1. 1.Medical Microbiology and Immunology, Health Science CenterTexas A & M UniversityCollege StationUSA
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia

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