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Mol Microbiol. 2004 Mar;51(6):1787-800.

The large resolvase TnpX is the only transposon-encoded protein required for transposition of the Tn4451/3 family of integrative mobilizable elements.

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Australian Bacterial Pathogenesis Programme, Department of Microbiology, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia.


Chloramphenicol resistance in Clostridium perfringens and Clostridium difficile is often encoded by catP genes located within the 6.3 kb integrative mobilizable elements Tn4451 and Tn4453 respectively. This family of transposons is capable of being mobilized into a recipient cell in the presence of another conjugative element. Transposition is mediated by the large resolvase TnpX, which excises the element to produce a circular molecule that is the integrative intermediate. In this study, in vivo deletion analysis of the transposon-encoded tnpV and tnpY genes showed that they are not essential for excision or integration of this group of elements. Similar studies on tnpW suggested either that this gene is not essential for these functions or that TnpW does not function when provided in trans. Development and use of an in vivo insertion assay showed that TnpX is the only transposon-encoded protein required for the integration reaction. Subsequently, a TnpXLEH6 protein was purified and shown to catalyse excision in vitro in the absence of any other protein and preferentially to excise a supercoiled DNA substrate. In summary, these studies have shown that TnpX is the only transposon protein required in vivo and in vitro for the excision process and that, like excision, integration also occurs by a serine recombinase-mediated site-specific recombination mechanism.

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