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Int J Med Microbiol. 2004 Sep;294(2-3):83-94.

The Yersinia high-pathogenicity island (HPI): evolutionary and functional aspects.

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Max von Pettenkofer-Institut für Hygiene und Medizinische Mikrobiologie, Lehrstuhl für Bakteriologie, Pettenkoferstr 9a, D-80336 München, Germany.


The high-pathogenicity island (HPI) is a genomic island essential for the mouse-virulence phenotype in Yersinia and indispensable for pathogenicity of Yersinia and certain pathotypes of Escherichia coli. In contrast to most genomic islands, the HPI is a functional island widely disseminated among members of the family of Enterobacteriaceae. The HPI-encoded phage P4-like integrase together with excisionase and recombination sites make up the genetic mobility module of the island, while the siderophore yersiniabactin biosynthesis and uptake system comprises its functional part with respect to fitness and pathogenicity. The HPI-integrase promotes integration of the island into attB sites represented by three to four asn tDNAs in Yersinia pestis and E. coli. An additional enzyme, excisionase, is essential for efficient excision of the HPI from the initial site of integration. Furthermore a unique type of HPI has been characterized in the E. coli strain ECOR31 carrying a functional conjugative mating pair formation (Mpf) and a DNA-processing system, both of which are characteristic of integrative and conjugative elements (ICE). A model of conjugative transfer for the dissemination of HPIs is proposed in which the excised HPI is mobilized to a new recipient either trapped by a transmissive asn tDNA-carrying plasmid or autonomously as an ICE named ICEEcl.

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