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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2017 Aug;38:44-50. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2017.03.014. Epub 2017 May 5.

Mechanisms of stabilization of integrative and conjugative elements.

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Département de biologie, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC J1K 2R1, Canada. Electronic address:


Integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs) are nearly ubiquitous in microbial genomes and influence their evolution by providing adaptive functions to their host and by enhancing genome plasticity and diversification. For a long-time, it has been assumed that by integrating into the chromosome of their host, these self-transmissible elements were passively inherited in subsequent generations. Recent findings point to a much more complex story that includes multiple strategies used by ICEs to leverage maintenance in cell populations such as transient replication, active partition of the excised circular intermediate or disassembly into multiple parts scattered in the chromosome. Here I review these diverse mechanisms of stabilization in the general context of ICEs belonging to diverse families.

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