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J Mol Biol. 2000 Nov 3;303(4):449-54.

Evolution of the family of pRN plasmids and their integrase-mediated insertion into the chromosome of the crenarchaeon Sulfolobus solfataricus.

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Microbial Genome Group Institute of Molecular Biology, University of Copenhagen, Solvgade 83H, Copenhagen, DK-1307, Denmark.


Plasmid pHEN7 from Sulfolobus islandicus was sequenced (7.83 kb) and shown to belong to the archaeal pRN family, which includes plasmids pRN1, pRN2, pSSVx and pDL10 that share a large conserved sequence region. pHEN7 is most closely related to pRN1 in this conserved region. It also shares a large variant region containing several homologous genes with pDL10, which is absent from the other plasmids. The variant region is flanked by the sequence motif TTAGAATGGGGATTC and similar duplicated motifs occur in plasmids pRN1 and pRN2, separated by a few bases. It is inferred that recombination at these sites produces the main genetic variability in the plasmid family. The conserved region of the plasmid, and duplicated copies of the motif, are also present in the genome of Sulfolobus solfataricus P2. Moreover, they are bordered by a partitioned integrase gene (int) and by a 45 bp perfect direct repeat corresponding to the downstream half of a tRNA(Val) gene. The integrase and the direct repeat are highly similar in sequence to the integrase and the chromosomal integration site (att), respectively, of the SSV1 virus, which integrates into the chromosome of Sulfolobus shibatae. Recombination at the att repeats in S. solfataricus would produce a novel plasmid, pXQ1, which carries both an intact integrase gene and a single integration site (att). This strongly suggests that the same mechanism of site-specific integration at a tRNA gene is used for both viruses and plasmids in Sulfolobus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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