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Int J Med Microbiol. 2002 Jul;292(2):115-25.

The role of integrons in antibiotic resistance gene capture.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Division of Clinical Integrative Biology, Sunnybrook and Women's College Hospital Health Sciences Centre Research Institute, Toronto, Canada.


Although recently discovered, integrons have played a primordial role in the evolution of bacterial genomes. They are best known as the genetic agents responsible for the capture and spread of antibiotic resistance determinants among diverse Gram-negative clinical isolates, and this activity is at the root of the antibiotic resistance phenomenon that has evolved over the last 60 years. The discovery of the ancestral chromosomal super-integrons, novel integron classes, and the multitude of gene cassettes they propagate solidify the crucial role of this system in adaptive bacterial evolution. Recent evidence suggests that evolutionarily old genetic recombination mechanisms for gene transfer have been adapted to the new antibiotic environment due to the heavy selective pressure of liberal antibiotic use in human medicine and animal husbandry.

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