Specialized transduction: Mechanism

By Acharya Tankeshwar •  Updated: 06/14/21 •  2 min read

In Transduction, DNA is transferred from one cell to another through the agency of viruses. Genetic transfer of host genes by bacteriophage occurs in two ways-generalized transduction and specialized transduction.

Specialized transduction occurs only in some temperate phages. But specialized transduction is an extremely efficient gene transfer mechanism.

On some occasions, DNA from a specific region of the host chromosome is integrated directly into the virus genome-usually replacing some viral genes. The resulting defective transducing phage (temperate phage) particles now have bacterial DNA as a part of the genome.

To understand the process of specialized transduction, you must first be aware about lytic cycle of bacteriophage.

Let’s contrast between normal lysogenic cycle and mechanism of transduction.

  1. When a bacterial cell is lysogenized by a lambda phage, the phage genome becomes integrated into the host DNA at a specific site.
  2. Viral DNA replicates under host control
  3. On induction: The viral DNA separates from the host DNA by a process that is reverse of integration.
    1. During the normal event:  Lambda DNA is excised as a unit
    2. During the rare event. lambda phage excise incorrectly; some of the adjacent bacterial genes are also excised along with phage DNA whereas some phage DNA is left behind. These phages are called defective lambda phages.
    3. When the lysate containing defective lambda phage are mixed with a sensitive bacterial population, there are two possibilities
      1. The bacterial DNA may be integrated into the host chromosome during lysogenization, and
      2. The DNA may be replicated in the recipients as part of a lytic infection

Transduction has been found to occur in a variety of bacterial populations including:

  1. Escherichia coli
  2. Pseudomonas spp
  3. Salmonella spp
  4. Staphylococcus spp

Acharya Tankeshwar

Hello, thank you for visiting my blog. I am Tankeshwar Acharya. Blogging is my passion. As an asst. professor, I am teaching microbiology and immunology to medical and nursing students at PAHS, Nepal. I have been working as a microbiologist at Patan hospital for more than 10 years.

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