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Plasmid. 2005 Sep;54(2):135-48. Epub 2005 Apr 18.

Plasmid pB8 is closely related to the prototype IncP-1beta plasmid R751 but transfers poorly to Escherichia coli and carries a new transposon encoding a small multidrug resistance efflux protein.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University of Idaho, Moscow, ID 83844-3051, USA. Andreas.Schlueter@Genetik.Uni-Bielefeld.DE


The IncP-1beta plasmid pB8, which confers resistance to amoxicillin, spectinomycin, streptomycin, and sulfonamides, was previously isolated from a sewage treatment plant. It was found to possess abnormal conjugative transfer properties, i.e., transfer to Escherichia coli by conjugation or electroporation could not be detected. We showed in this study that plasmid pB8 is transferable to E. coli by conjugation, but only at low frequencies and under specific experimental conditions, a phenomenon that is very unusual for IncP-1 plasmids. Determination of the complete 57,198bp pB8 nucleotide sequence revealed that the backbone of the plasmid consists of a complete set of IncP-1beta-specific genes for replication initiation, conjugative plasmid transfer, stable inheritance, and plasmid control with an organisation identical to that of the prototype IncP-1beta plasmid R751. All of the minor differences in the pB8 backbone sequence compared to that of R751 were also found in other IncP-1beta plasmids known to transfer to and replicate in E. coli. Plasmids pB8 and R751 can be distinguished with respect to their accessory genetic elements. First, the pB8 region downstream of the replication initiation gene trfA contains two transposable elements one of which is similar to Tn5501. The latter transposon encodes a putative post-segregational-killing system and the small multidrug resistance (SMR) protein QacF, mediating quaternary ammonium compound resistance. The accessory genes in this region are not responsible for the poor plasmid transfer to E. coli since a pB8 deletion derivative devoid of all genes in that region showed the same conjugative transfer properties as pB8. A Tn5090/Tn402 derivative carrying a class 1 integron is located between the conjugative transfer modules. The Tn5090/Tn402 integration-sites are exactly identical on pB8 and R751 but in contrast to R751 the pB8 element carries the resistance gene cassettes oxa-2 for amoxicillin resistance and aadA4 for streptomycin/spectinomycin resistance, the integron-specific conserved segment consisting of the genes qacEDelta1, sul1, and orf5, and a truncated tni transposition module (tniAB). Although future work will have to determine the molecular basis for the poor transfer of pB8 to E. coli, our findings demonstrate that the host-range of typical IncP-1 plasmids may be less broad than expected.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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