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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1995 Jan;39(1):155-62.

Expression of antibiotic resistance genes in the integrated cassettes of integrons.

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CSIRO Division of Biomolecular Engineering, Sydney Laboratory, North Ryde, New South Wales, Australia.


Plasmids containing cloned integron fragments which differ only with respect to either the sequence of the promoter(s) or the number and order of inserted cassettes were used to examine the expression of resistance genes encoded in integron-associated gene cassettes. All transcripts detected commenced at the common promoter P(ant), and alterations in the sequence of P(ant) affected the level of resistance expressed by cassette genes. When both P(ant) and the secondary promoter P2 were present, transcription from both promoters was detected. When more than one cassette was present, the position of the cassette in the array influenced the level of antibiotic resistance expressed by the cassette gene. In all cases, the resistance level was highest when the gene was in the first cassette, i.e., closest to P(ant), and was reduced to different extents by the presence of individual upstream cassettes. In Northern (RNA) blots, multiple discrete transcripts originating at P(ant) were detected, and only the longer transcripts contained the distal genes. Together, these data suggest that premature transcription termination occurs within the cassettes. The most abundant transcripts appeared to contain one or more complete cassettes, and is possible that the 59-base elements found at the end of the cassettes (3' to the coding region) not only function as recombination sites but may also function as transcription terminators.

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