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Mol Genet Genomics. 2004 Jul;271(6):729-41. Epub 2004 Jun 18.

Inhibitor-associated transposition events in Corynebacterium glutamicum.

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Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE), 9-2, Kizugawadai, 619-0292, Kizu-cho, Kyoto, Japan.


In up to 100% of all bacteria grown in the presence of initially inhibitory concentrations of five diverse inhibitors, an extra copy of the resident insertion element IS 31831 was found in specific chromosomal regions, the sites of which apparently depended on the inhibitor used. Thus, in nine out of nine independently isolated cyanide-associated transpositions, the acquired copy was located within an ORF encoding a protein related to the hypothetical but conserved protein YeiH of Escherichia coli. A putative Sox box upstream of the yeiH gene implicates superoxide as a potential regulator of the gene, a possibility further supported by the finding that superoxide dismutase (SodA) is overexpressed in cells cultured in cyanide-containing medium. Neither the cyanide-associated nor any of the other transposition mutations appeared to confer any discernible phenotypic advantage upon cells grown in the presence or absence of the inhibitors, as revealed most stringently by mixed-cell experiments. An alternative, albeit heterodox, explanation for the emergence of the mutants postulates a very high rate of transpositional activity in the presence of inhibitors. The initial emergence of the mutants was found to depend crucially upon the cell density. Thus, when growth medium was supplemented with 50 mM fluoropyruvate and inoculated to a density of 2 x 10(7) cfu/ml, single colonies with heterogeneous restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) were routinely isolated at a frequency of 6 to 16% after 1-2 days of incubation. After 3 days, 10-36% of the colonies showed RFLPs, but the type was now dominated by the fluoropyruvate-specific RFLP, which, at higher resolution, invariably proved to be heterogeneous. This heterogeneity proved that these specific mutants were of multiple origin, indicating that clonal enrichment was irrelevant to their emergence. It is suggested that the presence of the inhibitor induces the development of hyper-transpositional activity, which is regulated by a soluble bacterial product.

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