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FEMS Microbiol Lett. 1999 Jun 15;175(2):223-9.

IST1 insertional inactivation of the resB gene: implications for phenotypic switching in Thiobacillus ferrooxidans.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Chemistry and Biology, University of Santiago (USACH), Chile.


Thiobacillus ferroxidans ATCC 19859 undergoes rapid phenotypic switching between a wild-type state characterized by the ability to oxidize ferrous iron (FeII) and reduced sulfur compounds and a mutant state where it has lost the capacity to oxidize FeII but retains the ability to oxidize sulfur. The mutant has also gained the capacity to swarm. It is proposed that loss of FeII oxidation is due to the reversible transposition of the insertion sequence IST1 into resB encoding a putative cytochrome c-type biogenesis protein. Downstream from resB and co-transcribed with it is resC, encoding another putative cytochrome biogenesis protein. IST1 insertional inactivation of resB could result in the loss of activity of its target c-type cytochrome(s). This putative target cytochrome(s) is proposed to be essential for FeII oxidation but not for sulfur oxidation. Curiously, resB and resC pertain to the proposed system II cytochrome biogenesis pathway whereas gamma Proteobacteria, of which T. ferrooxidans is a member, normally use system I. This could represent an example of lateral gene transfer.

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