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Res Microbiol. 2002 Jul-Aug;153(6):325-32.

Archaeal integrative genetic elements and their impact on genome evolution.

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Microbial Genome Centre, Institute of Molecular Biology, Copenhagen University, Denmark.


Integrases encoded in archaeal genomes can be classified into seven families on the basis of their sequences. They constitute a super-family of tyrosine DNA recombinases together with a number of bacterial integrases and they are likely to be responsible for the formation of integrated elements in archaeal chromosomes. An integrated element is defined as possessing an integrase, a block of foreign genes, and a direct repeat at the two ends with one repeat unit overlapping a tRNA gene. There are two types of archaeal integrated elements, the SSV viral type, including those that carry the partitioned integrase gene, intN and intC, and the pNOB8 type, including those with a tRNA gene overlapping the attL site 5' prior to an integrase gene. Both known and unknown genes are present in these integrated elements and their encoded proteins may have facilitated the adaptation of archaea during evolution.

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