Maintenance of species identity and controlling speciation of bacteria: a new function for restriction/modification systems?

Bacteria frequently exchange DNA among each other by horizontal gene transfer. However, maintenance of species identity and in particular speciation requires a certain barrier against an unregulated uptake of foreign DNA. Here it is suggested that formation of such a barrier is one important biological function of restriction/modification systems, in addition to the classical function of protection of bacteria against bacteriophage infection. This model explains the extreme variability and wide distribution of restriction/modification systems among prokaryotes, the prevalence of RM-systems in pathogenic bacteria and the existence of several RM-systems in single bacterial strains.
AuthorsAlbert Jeltsch
JournalGene (Gene) Vol. 317 Issue 1-2 Pg. 13-6 (Oct 23 2003) ISSN: 0378-1119 [Print] Netherlands
PMID14604787 (Publication Type: Journal Article, Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't)
Chemical References
  • DNA Restriction-Modification Enzymes
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Bacteria (enzymology, genetics)
  • DNA Restriction-Modification Enzymes (metabolism)
  • DNA, Bacterial (genetics, metabolism)
  • Gene Transfer, Horizontal
  • Species Specificity

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