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Microbiology. 2008 Feb;154(Pt 2):383-91. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.2007/012963-0.

Evidence for the horizontal transfer of an integrase gene from a fusellovirus to a pRN-like plasmid within a single strain of Sulfolobus and the implications for plasmid survival.

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Danish Archaea Centre, Department of Molecular Biology, Biocenter, Copenhagen University, Ole Maal√łes Vej 5, Copenhagen N, Denmark.


A fusellovirus SSV4 and a pRN-like plasmid pXZ1 were co-isolated from a single strain of Sulfolobus. In contrast to the previously characterized virus-plasmid hybrids pSSVx and pSSVi, which can coexist intracellulary with a fusellovirus, pXZ1 is not packaged into viral particles and shows no viral infectivity. The virus and plasmid carry genomes of 15 135 and 6970 bp, respectively. For SSV4, 33 predicted ORFs are compactly organized with a strong preference for UGA stop codons, three-quarters of which overlap with either the Shine-Dalgarno motif or the start codon of the following gene. pXZ1 carries seven ORFs, three of which encode an atypical RepA, a PlrA and a CopG protein. A fourth ORF exhibits a high nucleotide sequence identity to the SSV4 integrase gene, which suggests that it has been transferred to the plasmid from SSV4. A single point mutation within an otherwise identical 500 bp region of the integrase gene occurs in the viral attachment site (attP), which corresponds to the anticodon region of the targeted tRNA gene in the host chromosome. This point mutation confers on pXZ1 the ability to integrate into the tRNA(Glu)[CUC] gene, which differs from the integration site of SSV4, tRNA(Glu)[UUC]. SSV4 and pXZ1 were also shown experimentally to integrate into separate sites on the host chromosome. This is believed to be the first report of a pRN plasmid sharing its natural host with a fusellovirus and carrying a highly similar integrase gene.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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