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Nucleic Acids Res. 2007;35(1):214-22. Epub 2006 Dec 7.

Dispersion of the RmInt1 group II intron in the Sinorhizobium meliloti genome upon acquisition by conjugative transfer.

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Grupo de Ecología Genética de la Rizosfera, Estación Experimental del Zaidín Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Profesor Albareda 1, 18008 Granada, Spain.


RmInt1 is a self-splicing and mobile group II intron initially identified in the bacterium Sinorhizobium meliloti, which encodes a reverse transcriptase-maturase (Intron Encoded Protein, IEP) lacking the C-terminal DNA binding (D) and DNA endonuclease domains (En). RmInt1 invades cognate intronless homing sites (ISRm2011-2) by a mechanism known as retrohoming. This work describes how the RmInt1 intron spreads in the S.meliloti genome upon acquisition by conjugation. This process was revealed by using the wild-type intron RmInt1 and engineered intron-donor constructs based on ribozyme coding sequence (DeltaORF)-derivatives with higher homing efficiency than the wild-type intron. The data demonstrate that RmInt1 propagates into the S.meliloti genome primarily by retrohoming with a strand bias related to replication of the chromosome and symbiotic megaplasmids. Moreover, we show that when expressed in trans from a separate plasmid, the IEP is able to mobilize genomic DeltaORF ribozymes that afterward displayed wild-type levels of retrohoming. Our results contribute to get further understanding of how group II introns spread into bacterial genomes in nature.

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