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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2003 Jun;14(3):248-54.

Genomic islands and the evolution of catabolic pathways in bacteria.

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Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology, EAWAG, Uberlandstrasse 133, CH-8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.


Genes for the degradation of organic pollutants have usually been allocated to plasmid DNAs in bacteria or considered non-mobile when detected in the chromosome. New discoveries have shown that catabolic genes can also be part of so-called integrative and conjugative elements (ICElands), a group of mobile DNA elements also known as genomic islands and conjugative transposons. One such ICEland is the clc element for chlorobenzoate and chlorocatechol degradation in Pseudomonas sp. strain B13. Genome comparisons and genetic data on integrase functioning reveal that the clc element and several other unclassified ICElands belong to a group of elements with conserved features. The clc element is unique among them in carrying the genetic information for several degradation pathways, whereas the others give evidence for pathogenicity functions. Many more such elements may exist, bridging the gap between pathogenicity and degradation functions.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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