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Res Microbiol. 1999 Nov-Dec;150(9-10):641-51.


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Unité de Programmation Moléculaire et Toxicologie Génétique, CNRS URA 1444, Département des Biotechnologies, Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.


Integrons represent the primary mechanism for antibiotic resistance gene capture and dissemination among gram-negative bacteria. The recent finding of super-integron (SI) structures in the genomes of several bacterial species has expanded their role in genome evolution. The Vibrio cholerae superintegron is gathered in a single chromosomal super-structure harbouring hundreds of gene cassettes. The encoded functions, when identifiable, are linked to adaptations extending beyond antibiotic resistance and pathogenicity. Comparison of the cassette contents of super-integrons from remote Vibrio species suggests that most of their cassettes are species-specific. Many bacterial species belonging to several distinct genera of the gamma- and beta-proteobacteria undoubtedly carry or show strong evidence for the presence of chromosomal SIs. If each bacterial species harbouring a SI has its own cassette pool, the resource in terms of gene cassette availability may be immense.

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