This morning the RA and I discussed our immediate research goals. We agreed that it's time to pull together all the work we've done on competence in E. coli, and see what more we need to make a good paper. Although we don't know anything about the properties of competent E. coli (because we have not been able to make E. coli detectably competent), we have accumulated quite a lot of relevant information, and we think that even a negative result paper could be worthwhile.
The basic situation is that E. coli has apparently intact homologs of all of the genes H. influenzae needs to become competent, and all of these are induced when the Sxy activator is overexpressed. One of these genes, ppdD, has received attention from other labs, because it encodes a type IV pilin that appears to be functional (it can be assembled into pili by Pseudomonas aeruginosa), but these labs haven't been able to turn the gene on in E. coli.
Kurt Gödel's Open World
1 day ago in The Curious Wavefunction