Safe passage for plasmid cargos

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Science  25 Jan 2019:
Vol. 363, Issue 6425, pp. 361-362
DOI: 10.1126/science.363.6425.361-d

Among bacteria, sex and combat both require physical contact. Acinetobacter baumannii carries a constitutively active type VI secretion system (T6SS) for killing potentially competitive cells that it encounters. This species also possesses multiple conjugative plasmids with antibiotic resistance cassettes that require cell-to-cell contact for transmission. Di Venanzio et al. asked how resistance plasmids have managed to become so widespread among the well-defended diversity of A. baumannii strains, making this pathogen a major nosocomial threat. The large conjugative antibiotic resistance plasmids transmit among A. baumannii without provoking defensive mechanisms that kill them, because the plasmids also carry the components of a T6SS repressor system.

Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 10.1073/pnas.1812557116 (2019).

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