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Structural and functional characterization of tnpI, a recombinase locus in Tn21 and related beta-lactamase transposons.

By J Mercier, J Lachapelle, F Couture, M Lafond, G Vézina, M Boissinot and R C Levesque


A novel discrete mobile DNA element from Tn21 from the plasmid R100.1 is described, and its mobilization function was confirmed experimentally. In addition, the element behaves as a recombinase-active locus (tnpI) which facilitates insertions of antibiotic resistance genes as modules or cassettes at defined hot spots or integration sites. A similar tnpI sequence was detected by DNA hybridization in a series of beta-lactamase transposons and plasmids and localized on their physical maps. The genetic function of the locus cloned from Tn21 into pACYC184 was tested for conduction and integration into the plasmids R388 and pOX38Km, and the results suggested recombinase-integrase activity and recA independence. DNA sequence analysis of the tnpI locus revealed no inverted or direct terminal repeats or transposition features of class I and class II transposons. The coding capacity revealed three putative open reading frames encoding 131, 134, and 337 amino acids. Orf3 encoded a putative polypeptide product of 337 amino acids that shared highly significant identity with the carboxyl region of integrase proteins. A comparison and an alignment of the tnpI locus from Tn21 and its flanking sequences identified similar sequences in plasmids and in transposons. The alignment revealed discrete nucleotide changes in these tnpI-like loci and a conserved 3' and 5' GTTA/G hot spot as a duplicated target site. Our data confirm the remarkable ubiquity of tnpI associated with antibiotic resistance genes. We present a model of transposon modular evolution into more complex multiresistant units via tnpI and site-specific insertions, deletions, and DNA rearrangements at this locus

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1990
DOI identifier: 10.1128/jb.172.7.3745-3757.1990
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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