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DNA Res. 2009 Oct;16(5):299-309. doi: 10.1093/dnares/dsp015. Epub 2009 Sep 18.

Nucleotide sequence analysis of the enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli Ent plasmid.

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Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, Fujita Health University, Toyoake, Aichi, Japan.


We report here the complete nucleotide sequence of pEntH10407 (65 147 bp), an enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli enterotoxin plasmid (Ent plasmid), which is self-transmissible at low frequency. Within the plasmid, we identified 100 open reading frames (ORFs) which could encode polypeptides. These ORFs included regions encoding heat-labile (LT) and heat-stable (STIa) enterotoxins, regions encoding tools for plasmid replication and an incomplete tra (conjugation) region. The LT and STIa region was located 13.5 kb apart and was surrounded by three IS1s and an IS600 in opposite reading orientations, indicating that the enterotoxin genes may have been horizontally transferred into the plasmid. We identified a single RepFIIA replication region (2.0 kb) including RepA proteins similar to RepA1, RepA2, RepA3 and RepA4. The incomplete tra region was made up of 17 tra genes, which were nearly identical to the corresponding genes of R100, and showed evidence of multiple insertions of ISEc8 and ISEc8-like elements. These data suggest that pEntH10407 has the mosaic nature characteristic of bacterial virulence plasmids, which contains information about its evolution. Although the tra genes might originally have rendered pEntH10407 self-transferable to the same degree as R100, multiple insertion events have occurred in the tra region of pEntH10407 to make it less mobile. Another self-transmissible plasmid might help pEntH10407 to transfer efficiently into H10407 strain. In this paper, we suggest another possibility: that the enterotoxigenic H10407 strain might be formed by auto-transfer of pEntH10407 at a low rate using the incomplete tra region.

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