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J Bacteriol. 2012 Jan;194(2):509-17. doi: 10.1128/JB.06211-11. Epub 2011 Nov 11.

E622, a miniature, virulence-associated mobile element.

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Department of Biology, University of Regina, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada.


Miniature inverted terminal repeat elements (MITEs) are nonautonomous mobile elements that have a significant impact on bacterial evolution. Here we characterize E622, a 611-bp virulence-associated MITE from Pseudomonas syringae, which contains no coding region but has almost perfect 168-bp inverted repeats. Using an antibiotic coupling assay, we show that E622 is transposable and can mobilize an antibiotic resistance gene contained between its borders. Its predicted parent element, designated TnE622, has a typical transposon structure with a three-gene operon, consisting of resolvase, integrase, and exeA-like genes, which is bounded by the same terminal inverted repeats as E622. A broader genome level survey of the E622/TnE622 inverted repeats identified homologs in Pseudomonas, Salmonella, Shewanella, Erwinia, Pantoea, and the cyanobacteria Nostoc and Cyanothece, many of which appear to encompass known virulence genes, including genes encoding toxins, enzymes, and type III secreted effectors. Its association with niche-specific genetic determinants, along with its persistence and evolutionary diversification, indicates that this mobile element family has played a prominent role in the evolution of many agriculturally and clinically relevant pathogenic bacteria.

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