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Genetica. 1992;86(1-3):259-67.

Lambdoid phages as elements of bacterial genomes (integrase/phage21/Escherichia coli K-12/icd gene).

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Department of Biological Sciences, Stanford University, CA 94305.


The lambdoid phages are a group of related temperate bacteriophages that lysogenize by site-specific recombination with the bacterial chromosome. Various members of the group have different specific chromosomal insertion sites, despite the fact that the enzymes catalyzing the insertion (integrases) appear to be all descended from a common ancestor. Insertion sites are not located randomly on the E. coli chromosome but are restricted to one segment of the map; also, most prophages are oriented in the same direction along the chromosome. Lambdoid phage 21 inserts within the isocitrate dehydrogenase gene and introduces an alternative 165 bp 3' end for that gene. A defective element (e14) inserts at the same position. We suggest that this mode of insertion arose from insertion of an ancestral phage to the right of icd which then picked up part of the icd gene by abnormal excision and speculate that, at an earlier time, phages may have arrived at their present locations by a process of chromosomal walking.

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