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J Bacteriol. 2010 Sep;192(18):4643-50. doi: 10.1128/JB.00317-10. Epub 2010 Jul 16.

Genetic and functional analyses of the mob operon on conjugative transposon CTn341 from Bacteroides spp.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, Greenville, North Carolina 27834, USA.


Bacteroides are Gram-negative anaerobes indigenous to the intestinal tract of humans, and they are important opportunistic pathogens. Mobile genetic elements, such as conjugative transposons (CTns), have contributed to an increase in antibiotic resistance in these organisms. CTns are self-transmissible elements that belong to the superfamily of integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs). CTn341 is 52 kb; it encodes tetracycline resistance and its transfer is induced by tetracycline. The mobilization region of CTn341 was shown to be comprised of a three-gene operon, mobABC, and the transfer origin, oriT. The three genes code for a nicking accessory protein, a relaxase, and a VirD4-like coupling protein, respectively. The Mob proteins were predicted to mediate the formation of the relaxosome complex, nick DNA at the oriT, and shuttle the DNA/protein complex to the mating-pore apparatus. The results of mutational studies indicated that the three genes are required for maximal transfer of CTn341. Mob gene transcription was induced by tetracycline, and this regulation was mediated through the two-component regulatory system, RteAB. The oriT region of CTn341 was located within 100 bp of mobA, and a putative Bacteroides consensus nicking site was observed within this region. Mutation of the putative nick site resulted in a loss of transfer. This study demonstrated a role of the mobilization region for transfer of Bacteroides CTns and that tetracycline induction occurs for the mob gene operon, as for the tra gene operon(s), as shown previously.

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