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ISME J. 2011 Jul;5(7):1162-77. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2010.208. Epub 2011 Jan 20.

Marine integrons containing novel integrase genes, attachment sites, attI, and associated gene cassettes in polluted sediments from Suez and Tokyo Bays.

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Microbial and Genetic Resources Research Group, Bioproduction Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, Higashi Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan.


In order to understand the structure and biological significance of integrons and associated gene cassettes in marine polluted sediments, metagenomic DNAs were extracted from sites at Suez and Tokyo Bays. PCR amplicons containing new integrase genes, intI, linked with novel gene cassettes, were recovered and had sizes from 1.8 to 2.5 kb. This approach uncovered, for the first time, the structure and diversity of both marine integron attachment site, attI, and the first gene cassette, the most efficiently expressed integron-associated gene cassette. The recovered 13 and 20 intI phylotypes, from Suez and Tokyo Bay samples, respectively, showed a highly divergence, suggesting a difference in integron composition between the sampling sites. Some intI phylotypes showed similarity with that from Geobacter metallireducens, belonging to Deltaproteobacteria, the dominant class in both sampling sites, as determined by 16S rRNA gene analysis. Thirty distinct families of putative attI site, as determined by the presence of an attI-like simple site, were recovered. A total of 146 and 68 gene cassettes represented Suez and Tokyo Bay unsaturated cassette pools, respectively. Gene cassettes, including a first cassette, from both sampling sites encoded two novel families of glyoxalase/bleomycin antibiotic-resistance protein. Gene cassettes from Suez Bay encoded proteins similar to haloacid dehalogenases, protein disulfide isomerases and death-on-curing and plasmid maintenance system killer proteins. First gene cassettes from Tokyo Bay encoded a xenobiotic-degrading protein, cardiolipin synthetase, esterase and WD40-like β propeller protein. Many of the first gene cassettes encoded proteins with no ascribable function but some of them were duplicated and possessed signal functional sites, suggesting efficient adaptive functions to their bacterial sources. Thus, each sampling site had a specific profile of integrons and cassette types consistent with the hypothesis that the environment shapes the genome.

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