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Plasmid. 2012 Jan;67(1):15-34. doi: 10.1016/j.plasmid.2011.10.001. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Diversity, biology and evolution of IncQ-family plasmids.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland 7602, South Africa.


Plasmids of IncQ-family are distinguished by having a unique strand-displacement mechanism of replication that is capable of functioning in a wide variety of bacterial hosts. In addition, these plasmids are highly mobilizable and therefore very promiscuous. Common features of the replicons have been used to identify IncQ-family plasmids in DNA sequence databases and in this way several unstudied plasmids have been compared to more well-studied IncQ plasmids. We propose that IncQ plasmids can be divided into four subgroups based on a number of mutually supportive criteria. The most important of these are the amino acid sequences of their three essential replication proteins and the observation that the replicon of each subgroup has become fused to four different lineages of mobilization genes. This review of IncQ-family plasmid diversity has highlighted several events in the evolution of these plasmids and raised several questions for further research.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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