News Molecular Microbiology

  • DNA transfer during bacterial conjugation uses the F pilus as conduit
  • Horizontal transfer of mobile genetic elements by bacterial conjugation is responsible for the spread of antibiotic resistance and virulence among pathogenic bacterial species, a growing global health problem. In a collaborative effort with the team of Christian Lesterlin, we investigated the role of the F pilus in bacterial conjugation. Utilizing advanced live-cell microscopy and innovative fluorescent reporter systems, we demonstrate that the F pilus can act as a conduit for DNA transfer between physically distant bacteria, in addition to transfer between cells in direct contact. This finding revises our understanding of the mechanism of bacterial conjugation and its impact on the dissemination of drug resistance and virulence genes in bacterial communities. Published in PNAS!

    See below for a time lapse movie of the F pilus labelled with AF-Mal488 showing one extension (top) and one retraction (bottom) event. Scale bar 1 μm and time in minutes are indicated (10 sec/frame). The second time-lapse movie shows distant transfer events between E. coli cells. Distant transfer is reported by both the formation Ssb-Ypet conjugative foci at each edge of the pilus connecting the mating pair cells and the subsequent the formation of mCherry-ParB foci, which confirms the acquisition of the dsDNA plasmid by the recipient cell. Three different events are shown. Scale bar 1 μm and time in minutes are indicated (3 min/frame).

    Gita Naseri awarded a six-year grant by the Emmy Noether Program of the German Research Foundation (DFG)

    Dr. Gita Naseri (Emmanuelle Charpentier’s laboratory at the Max Planck Unit for the Science of Pathogens (MPUSP) and Marc Erhardt’s laboratory at the Institute for Biology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) has been awarded a six-year grant by the Emmy Noether Program of the German Research Foundation (Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG))

    The Emmy Noether Programme has been established by the DFG to offer exceptionally qualified early career researchers the chance to qualify for a professorship at a university by leading an independent junior research group for a period of six years. The Emmy Noether grant awarded to Gita Naseri entitled „COMPLATn - A comprehensive platform for sustainable biosynthesis of rare natural products in Pichia pastoris” aims to create a new avenue for the biomanufacturing of rare natural products that control microbial diseases and cancers in microbial cells by employing cutting-edge genetic engineering technologies. For this project, Gita Naseri is receiving a total funding of almost 2.6 million EUR over a 6-year period.

    After studying biology in Iran, Gita Naseri received her doctoral degree in synthetic biology from the University of Potsdam in 2018. In 2019, she embarked on her PostDoc research journey at the Institute for Chemistry at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. In 2021, she joined Marc Erhardt's laboratory at the Institute for Biology, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Since then, she has been working as a PostDoc at Emmanuelle Charpentier’s laboratory at MPUSP and the Erhardt laboratory at the Institute for Biology of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Gita Naseri’s work has been recognized by several awards, including the NNPDF Fellowship award from the National Niemann-Pick Disease Foundation (USA) and the Go-Bio initial funding program of the German Ministry for Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF), Germany).

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