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J Bacteriol. 1991 Nov;173(22):7136-41.

Conjugative transfer of Tn916 in Enterococcus faecalis: trans activation of homologous transposons.

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Department of Biologic and Materials Sciences, School of Dentistry, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109-0402.


Tn916 [carries tet(M)] is a 16.4-kb conjugative transposon that can establish itself in multiple copies in Enterococcus faecalis. To study the interaction of coresident homologous transposons during conjugation, an E. faecalis mutant defective in homologous recombination was utilized for construction of strains harboring Tn916 delta E (a derivative in which erm is substituted for tet) on the chromosome and Tn916 on a nonconjugative plasmid. When these strains were used as donors, the two transposons were able to transfer independently; however, they were found to transfer and become coestablished in the recipient up to 50% of the time. In contrast, cotransfer of a plasmid marker located outside the transposon occurred at a frequency of no greater than 0.5%. Separate experiments showed that mobilization of the nonconjugative plasmids pAM401 and pVA749 by chromosome-borne copies of Tn916 occurred only at low frequencies (generally less than 2% cotransfer). The data imply that the initiation of transposition of Tn916 results in a trans activation that is specific for homologous transposons present in the same cell.

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