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J Bacteriol. 2012 Jul;194(14):3636-42. doi: 10.1128/JB.00333-12. Epub 2012 May 4.

Novel miniature transposable elements in thermophilic Synechococcus strains and their impact on an environmental population.

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  • 1Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences, Marine Environmental Division, University of Southern California, Wrigley Marine Science Center, Avalon, California, USA. wcnelson@usc.edu


The genomes of the two closely related freshwater thermophilic cyanobacteria Synechococcus sp. strain JA-3-3Ab and Synechococcus sp. strain JA-2-3B'a(2-13) each host several families of insertion sequences (ISSoc families) at various copy numbers, resulting in an overall high abundance of insertion sequences in the genomes. In addition to full-length copies, a large number of internal deletion variants have been identified. ISSoc2 has two variants (ISSoc2∂-1 and ISSoc2∂-2) that are observed to have multiple near-exact copies. Comparison of environmental metagenomic sequences to the Synechococcus genomes reveals novel placement of copies of ISSoc2, ISSoc2∂-1, and ISSoc2∂-2. Thus, ISSoc2∂-1 and ISSoc2∂-2 appear to be active nonautonomous mobile elements derived by internal deletion from ISSoc2. Insertion sites interrupting genes that are likely critical for cell viability were detected; however, most insertions either were intergenic or were within genes of unknown function. Most novel insertions detected in the metagenome were rare, suggesting a stringent selective environment. Evidence for mobility of internal deletion variants of other insertion sequences in these isolates suggests that this is a general mechanism for the formation of miniature insertion sequences.

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