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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2012 Jun 11;10(7):472-82. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2802.

Gene transfer agents: phage-like elements of genetic exchange.

Author information

  • 1Department of Biology, Memorial University, St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador A1B 3X9, Canada. aslang@mun.ca

Abstract

Horizontal gene transfer is important in the evolution of bacterial and archaeal genomes. An interesting genetic exchange process is carried out by diverse phage-like gene transfer agents (GTAs) that are found in a wide range of prokaryotes. Although GTAs resemble phages, they lack the hallmark capabilities that define typical phages, and they package random pieces of the producing cell's genome. In this Review, we discuss the defining characteristics of the GTAs that have been identified to date, along with potential functions for these agents and the possible evolutionary forces that act on the genes involved in their production.

PMID:
22683880
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3626599
Free PMC Article
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