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Microbiology. 2000 Oct;146 ( Pt 10):2365-73.

Monitoring genome evolution ex vivo: reversible chromosomal integration of a 106 kb plasmid at two tRNA(Lys) gene loci in sequential Pseudomonas aeruginosa airway isolates.

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Klinische Forschergruppe, Zentrum Biochemie und Zentrum Kinderheilkunde, OE 6711, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Carl-Neuberg-Str. 1, D-30623 Hannover, Germany.


The genome rearrangements in sequential Pseudomonas aeruginosa clone K isolates from the airways of a patient with cystic fibrosis were determined by an integrated approach of mapping, sequencing and bioinformatics. Restriction mapping uncovered an 8.9 kb deletion of PAO sequence between phnAB and oprL in clone K, and two 106 kb insertions either adjacent to this deletion or several hundred kilobases away, close to the pilA locus. These 106 kb blocks of extra DNA also co-existed as the circular plasmid pKLK106 in several clone K isolates and were found to be closely related to plasmid pKLC102 in P. aeruginosa clone C isolates. The breakpoints of the deletion in clone K and the attB-attP sequences for the reversible integration of the plasmid in clones C and K were located within the 3' end of the lysine tRNA structural genes (att site). pKLK106 sequentially recombined with either of the two tRNA(Lys) genes in clone K isolates. The att site of the pilA hypervariable region has been utilized by clone C to target its plasmid pKLC102 into the chromosome; the att site of the phnAB-oprL region has been employed by strain PAO to incorporate a DNA block encoding pyocin, transposases and IS elements. The use of typical phage attachment sites by conjugative genetic elements could be one of the major mechanisms used by P. aeruginosa to generate the mosaic genome structure of blocks of species-, clone- and strain-specific DNA. The example described here demonstrates the potential impact of systematic genome analysis of sequential isolates from the same habitat on our understanding of the evolution of microbial genomes.

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