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Nat Rev Microbiol. 2010 Aug;8(8):552-63. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro2382. Epub 2010 Jul 5.

Integrative and conjugative elements: mosaic mobile genetic elements enabling dynamic lateral gene flow.

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Program in Genetics, Tufts University, Boston, Massachusetts 02111, USA.


Integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs) are a diverse group of mobile genetic elements found in both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria. These elements primarily reside in a host chromosome but retain the ability to excise and to transfer by conjugation. Although ICEs use a range of mechanisms to promote their core functions of integration, excision, transfer and regulation, there are common features that unify the group. This Review compares and contrasts the core functions for some of the well-studied ICEs and discusses them in the broader context of mobile-element and genome evolution.

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