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J Bacteriol. 2012 Jul;194(14):3636-42. doi: 10.1128/JB.00333-12. Epub 2012 May 4.

Novel miniature transposable elements in thermophilic Synechococcus strains and their impact on an environmental population.

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  • 1Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Department of Biological Sciences, Marine Environmental Division, University of Southern California, Wrigley Marine Science Center, Avalon, California, USA.


The genomes of the two closely related freshwater thermophilic cyanobacteria Synechococcus sp. strain JA-3-3Ab and Synechococcus sp. strain JA-2-3B'a(2-13) each host several families of insertion sequences (ISSoc families) at various copy numbers, resulting in an overall high abundance of insertion sequences in the genomes. In addition to full-length copies, a large number of internal deletion variants have been identified. ISSoc2 has two variants (ISSoc2∂-1 and ISSoc2∂-2) that are observed to have multiple near-exact copies. Comparison of environmental metagenomic sequences to the Synechococcus genomes reveals novel placement of copies of ISSoc2, ISSoc2∂-1, and ISSoc2∂-2. Thus, ISSoc2∂-1 and ISSoc2∂-2 appear to be active nonautonomous mobile elements derived by internal deletion from ISSoc2. Insertion sites interrupting genes that are likely critical for cell viability were detected; however, most insertions either were intergenic or were within genes of unknown function. Most novel insertions detected in the metagenome were rare, suggesting a stringent selective environment. Evidence for mobility of internal deletion variants of other insertion sequences in these isolates suggests that this is a general mechanism for the formation of miniature insertion sequences.

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