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Int J Med Microbiol. 2006 Oct;296(6):341-52. Epub 2006 Jun 6.

Independent acquisition of site-specific recombination factors by asn tRNA gene-targeting genomic islands.

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Max von Pettenkofer-Institute of Hygiene and Medical Microbiology, Pettenkofer Str. 9a, D-80336 Munich, Germany.


Two genomic islands, namely the high-pathogenicity island (HPI) and Ecoc54N target the same asn tRNA genes to integrate into the bacterial chromosome. The HPI encodes the siderophore yersiniabactin in the highly pathogenic Yersinia group (Yersinia pestis, Yersinia pseudotuberculosis and Yersinia enterocolitica 1B) whilst the Ecoc54N island possibly encodes a polyketide synthase with an unknown function in the uropathogenic Escherichia coli CFT073 strain. HPI encodes the recombinase that promotes site-specific recombination (both integrative and excisive) with its corresponding attachment targets. A recombinase orthologue is also present in Ecoc54N. In addition, the HPI(Yps) of the Y. pestis/Y. pseudotuberculosis evolutionary lineage encodes the excisionase (recombination directionality factor, Xis(HPI)) that facilitates excision of the island. However, no sequence resembling the excisionase gene could be found in Ecoc54N. The rate of the HPI(Yps) excision estimated by real-time PCR was 10(-6) in Y. pseudotuberculosis. The presence of the excisionase increased the efficiency of the excisive recombination only eight fold. However, the introduction of the xis(HPI) in E. coli CFT073 did not influence the excision of Ecoc54N. The Xis(HPI) is encoded by the variable AT-rich part of the HPI(Yps) and substantially differs from its cognate recombinase in A+T content and codon usage. Also the Xis(HPI)-protected region, defined in the HPI attachment site, has suffered several nucleotide substitutions in Ecoc54N that could influence interaction with the excisionase. We propose that the pathogenicity islands (PAIs) targeting asn tRNA genes (PAIs(asn tRNA)) might have acquired recombinase and excisionase (HPI) genes independently and sequentially.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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