Spatial location and requirements for the assembly of the Agrobacterium tumefaciens type IV secretion apparatus

Paul K. Judd, Renu B. Kumar, Anath Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

94 Scopus citations


Type IV secretion is used by pathogenic microorganisms to transfer effector macromolecules to eukaryotic target cells. The VirB/D4 apparatus of Agrobacterium tumefaciens transfers DNA and proteins to plant cells. We postulated that the cell pole is the site of assembly of the A. tumefaciens type IV apparatus. Using immunofluorescence microscopy, we now demonstrate that 10 of the VirB proteins localized primarily to one cell pole and a macromolecular VirB complex is assembled at the pole. Neither the assembly of the complex nor polar localization of a VirB protein requires ATP utilization by the VirB ATPases. The requirement of other VirB proteins for the polar localization of at least six VirB proteins indicates an essential role of protein-protein interaction in polar targeting. Four proteins (VirB3, VirB4, VirB8, and VirB11) could target themselves to a cell pole independent of a VirB protein. We provide evidence that VirB6-VirB10 are the structural components of the type IV apparatus. Using strains that express defined subsets of the virB genes, we demonstrate that VirB7-VirB10 are the minimum components sufficient for the assembly of a polar VirB complex. VirB6 associates with this complex to form the type IV secretion apparatus. VirB8 functions as the assembly factor and targets the apparatus to the cell pole.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11498-11503
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number32
StatePublished - Aug 9 2005


  • Cell pole
  • Polar targeting protein
  • Scaffold protein
  • VirB proteins


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