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The Evolution of Collective Restraint: Policing and Obedience among Non-conjugative Plasmids

Kentzoglanakis, K; López, DG; Brown, SP; Goldstein, RA; (2013) The Evolution of Collective Restraint: Policing and Obedience among Non-conjugative Plasmids. PLoS Computational Biology , 9 (4) , Article e1003036. 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003036. Green open access

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Abstract

The repression of competition by mechanisms of policing is now recognized as a major force in the maintenance of cooperation. General models on the evolution of policing have focused on the interplay between individual competitiveness and mutual policing, demonstrating a positive relationship between within-group diversity and levels of policing. We expand this perspective by investigating what is possibly the simplest example of reproductive policing: copy number control (CNC) among non-conjugative plasmids, a class of extra-chromosomal vertically transmitted molecular symbionts of bacteria. Through the formulation and analysis of a multi-scale dynamical model, we show that the establishment of stable reproductive restraint among plasmids requires the co-evolution of two fundamental plasmid traits: policing, through the production of plasmid-coded trans-acting replication inhibitors, and obedience, expressed as the binding affinity of plasmid-specific targets to those inhibitors. We explain the intrinsic replication instabilities that arise in the absence of policing and we show how these instabilities are resolved by the evolution of copy number control. Increasing levels of policing and obedience lead to improvements in group performance due to tighter control of local population size (plasmid copy number), delivering benefits both to plasmids, by reducing the risk of segregational loss and to the plasmid-host partnership, by increasing the rate of cell reproduction, and therefore plasmid vertical transmission.

Type: Article
Title: The Evolution of Collective Restraint: Policing and Obedience among Non-conjugative Plasmids
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003036
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003036
Language: English
Additional information: © 2013 Kentzoglanakis et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Medical Sciences > Div of Infection and Immunity
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1403674
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