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Gene. 1999 Jul 8;234(2):361-9.

Structure analysis of a class II transposon encoding the mercury resistance of the Gram-positive Bacterium bacillus megaterium MB1, a strain isolated from minamata bay, Japan.

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Japan Science and Technology Corporation, 4-1-8 Honcho, Kawaguchi, Saitama-ken 332-0012, Japan.


A unique transposon was found in the chromosome of Bacillus megaterium MB1, a Gram-positive bacterium isolated from mercury-polluted sediments of Minamata Bay, Japan. The transposon region of a 14.5kb DNA fragment was amplified by PCR using a single PCR primer designed from the nucleotide sequence of an inverted repeat of class II transposons. The molecular analysis revealed that the PCR-amplified DNA fragment encodes a transposition module similar to that of Tn21. The transposon also encodes a broad-spectrum mercury resistance region having a restriction endonuclease map identical to that of Bacillus cereus RC607, a strain isolated from Boston Harbor, USA. The result of a phylogenetic analysis of the amino acid sequence of putative resolvase of the transposon showed that the transposon is phylogenetically closer to the transposons of Gram-positive bacteria than those of Gram-negative bacteria. Besides the transposition module and mer operon, the transposon encodes a mobile genetic element of bacterial group II introns between the resolvase gene and mer operon. The intron, however, does not intervene in any exon gene. The discovery of this newly found combination of the complex mobile elements may offer a clue to understanding the horizontal dissemination of broad-spectrum mercury resistance among microbes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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