Analysis by mutagenesis of a chromosomal integron integrase from Shewanella amazonensis SB2BT.
ABSTRACT: Integrons are mobile genetic elements that can integrate and disseminate genes as cassettes by a site-specific recombination mechanism. Integrons contain an integrase gene (intI) that carries out recombination by interacting with two different target sites; the attI site in cis with the integrase and the palindromic attC site of a cassette. The plasmid-specified IntI1 excises a greater variety of cassettes (principally antibiotic resistance genes), and has greater activity, than chromosomal integrases. The aim of this study was to analyze the capacity of the chromosomal integron integrase SamIntIA of the environmental bacterium Shewanella amazonensis SB2BT to excise various cassettes and to compare the properties of the wild type with those of mutants that substitute consensus residues of active integron integrases. We show that the SamIntIA integrase is very weakly active in the excision of various cassettes but that the V206R, V206K, and V206H substitutions increase its efficiency for the excision of cassettes. Our results also suggest that the cysteine residue in the beta-5 strand is essential to the activity of Shewanella-type integrases, while the cysteine in the beta-4 strand is less important for the excision activity.
Project description:In order to understand the structure and biological significance of integrons and associated gene cassettes in marine polluted sediments, metagenomic DNAs were extracted from sites at Suez and Tokyo Bays. PCR amplicons containing new integrase genes, intI, linked with novel gene cassettes, were recovered and had sizes from 1.8 to 2.5?kb. This approach uncovered, for the first time, the structure and diversity of both marine integron attachment site, attI, and the first gene cassette, the most efficiently expressed integron-associated gene cassette. The recovered 13 and 20 intI phylotypes, from Suez and Tokyo Bay samples, respectively, showed a highly divergence, suggesting a difference in integron composition between the sampling sites. Some intI phylotypes showed similarity with that from Geobacter metallireducens, belonging to Deltaproteobacteria, the dominant class in both sampling sites, as determined by 16S rRNA gene analysis. Thirty distinct families of putative attI site, as determined by the presence of an attI-like simple site, were recovered. A total of 146 and 68 gene cassettes represented Suez and Tokyo Bay unsaturated cassette pools, respectively. Gene cassettes, including a first cassette, from both sampling sites encoded two novel families of glyoxalase/bleomycin antibiotic-resistance protein. Gene cassettes from Suez Bay encoded proteins similar to haloacid dehalogenases, protein disulfide isomerases and death-on-curing and plasmid maintenance system killer proteins. First gene cassettes from Tokyo Bay encoded a xenobiotic-degrading protein, cardiolipin synthetase, esterase and WD40-like ? propeller protein. Many of the first gene cassettes encoded proteins with no ascribable function but some of them were duplicated and possessed signal functional sites, suggesting efficient adaptive functions to their bacterial sources. Thus, each sampling site had a specific profile of integrons and cassette types consistent with the hypothesis that the environment shapes the genome.
Project description:Integrons are bacterial genetic elements able to capture and express genes contained within mobile gene cassettes. Gene cassettes are expressed via a Pc promoter and can be excised from or integrated into the integron by integrase IntI. Although the mechanisms of gene cassette integration and excision are well known, the kinetics and modes of gene cassette shuffling leading to new gene cassette arrays remain puzzling. It has been proposed that under antibiotic selective pressure, IntI-mediated rearrangements can generate integron variants in which a weakly expressed gene cassette moves closer to Pc, thus leading to higher-level resistance. To test this hypothesis, we used an integron with four gene cassettes, intI1-aac(6')-Ib-dfrA15-aadA1-catB9, and applied selective pressure with chloramphenicol, resistance to which is encoded by catB9. Experiments were performed with three different Pc variants corresponding to three IntI1 variants. All three integrases, even when not overexpressed, were able to bring catB9 closer to Pc via excision of the dfrA15 and aadA1 gene cassettes, allowing their host bacteria to adapt to antibiotic pressure and to grow at high chloramphenicol concentrations. Integrase IntI1(R32_H39), reported to have the highest recombination activity, was able, when overexpressed, to trigger multiple gene cassette rearrangements. Although we observed a wide variety of rearrangements with catB9 moving closer to Pc and leading to higher chloramphenicol resistance, "cut-and-paste" relocalization of catB9 to the first position was not detected. Our results suggest that gene cassette rearrangements via excision are probably less cost-effective than excision and integration of a distal gene cassette closer to Pc.Integrons are bacterial genetic elements able to capture and express gene cassettes. Gene cassettes are expressed via a Pc promoter; the closer they are to Pc, the more strongly they are expressed. Gene cassettes can be excised from or integrated into the integron by integrase IntI. The kinetics and modes of gene cassette shuffling, leading to new gene cassette arrays remain puzzling. We used an integron with 4 antibiotic resistance gene cassettes and applied selective pressure with the antibiotic for which resistance was encoded by cassette 4. All IntI variants were able to bring cassette 4 closer to Pc. Rearrangements occur via excision of the previous gene cassettes instead of cut-and-paste relocalization of the fourth gene cassette.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Integrons are mechanisms that facilitate horizontal gene transfer, allowing bacteria to integrate and express foreign DNA. These are important in the exchange of antibiotic resistance determinants, but can also transfer a diverse suite of genes unrelated to pathogenicity. Here, we provide a systematic analysis of the distribution and diversity of integron intI genes and integron-containing bacteria. RESULTS: We found integrons in 103 different pathogenic and non-pathogenic bacteria, in six major phyla. Integrons were widely scattered, and their presence was not confined to specific clades within bacterial orders. Nearly 1/3 of the intI genes that we identified were pseudogenes, containing either an internal stop codon or a frameshift mutation that would render the protein product non-functional. Additionally, 20% of bacteria contained more than one integrase gene. dN/dS ratios revealed mutational hotspots in clades of Vibrio and Shewanella intI genes. Finally, we characterized the gene cassettes associated with integrons in Methylobacillus flagellatus KT and Dechloromonas aromatica RCB, and found a heavy metal efflux gene as well as genes involved in protein folding and stability. CONCLUSION: Our analysis suggests that the present distribution of integrons is due to multiple losses and gene transfer events. While, in some cases, the ability to integrate and excise foreign DNA may be selectively advantageous, the gain, loss, or rearrangment of gene cassettes could also be deleterious, selecting against functional integrases. Thus, such a high fraction of pseudogenes may suggest that the selective impact of integrons on genomes is variable, oscillating between beneficial and deleterious, possibly depending on environmental conditions.
Project description:Integrons play a major role in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance genes among Gram-negative pathogens. Integron gene cassettes form circular intermediates carrying a recombination site, attC, and insert into an integron platform at a second site, attI, in a reaction catalyzed by an integron-specific integrase IntI. The IntI1 integron integrase preferentially binds to the 'bottom strand' of single-stranded attC. We have addressed the insertion mechanism in vivo using a recombination assay exploiting plasmid conjugation to exclusively deliver either the top or bottom strand of different integrase recombination substrates. Recombination of a single-stranded attC site with an attI site was 1000-fold higher for one strand than for the other. Conversely, following conjugative transfer of either attI strand, recombination with attC is highly unfavorable. These results and those obtained using mutations within a putative attC stem-and-loop strongly support a novel integron cassette insertion model in which the single bottom attC strand adopts a folded structure generating a double strand recombination site. Thus, recombination would insert a single strand cassette, which must be subsequently processed.
Project description:Integrons recombine gene arrays and favor the spread of antibiotic resistance. Their broader roles in bacterial adaptation remain mysterious, partly due to lack of computational tools. We made a program - IntegronFinder - to identify integrons with high accuracy and sensitivity. IntegronFinder is available as a standalone program and as a web application. It searches for attC sites using covariance models, for integron-integrases using HMM profiles, and for other features (promoters, attI site) using pattern matching. We searched for integrons, integron-integrases lacking attC sites, and clusters of attC sites lacking a neighboring integron-integrase in bacterial genomes. All these elements are especially frequent in genomes of intermediate size. They are missing in some key phyla, such as ?-Proteobacteria, which might reflect selection against cell lineages that acquire integrons. The similarity between attC sites is proportional to the number of cassettes in the integron, and is particularly low in clusters of attC sites lacking integron-integrases. The latter are unexpectedly abundant in genomes lacking integron-integrases or their remains, and have a large novel pool of cassettes lacking homologs in the databases. They might represent an evolutionary step between the acquisition of genes within integrons and their stabilization in the new genome.
Project description:Class 1 integrons are widespread genetic elements that allow bacteria to capture and express gene cassettes that are usually promoterless. These integrons play a major role in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance among Gram-negative bacteria. They typically consist of a gene (intI) encoding an integrase (that catalyzes the gene cassette movement by site-specific recombination), a recombination site (attI1), and a promoter (Pc) responsible for the expression of inserted gene cassettes. The Pc promoter can occasionally be combined with a second promoter designated P2, and several Pc variants with different strengths have been described, although their relative distribution is not known. The Pc promoter in class 1 integrons is located within the intI1 coding sequence. The Pc polymorphism affects the amino acid sequence of IntI1 and the effect of this feature on the integrase recombination activity has not previously been investigated. We therefore conducted an extensive in silico study of class 1 integron sequences in order to assess the distribution of Pc variants. We also measured these promoters' strength by means of transcriptional reporter gene fusion experiments and estimated the excision and integration activities of the different IntI1 variants. We found that there are currently 13 Pc variants, leading to 10 IntI1 variants, that have a highly uneven distribution. There are five main Pc-P2 combinations, corresponding to five promoter strengths, and three main integrases displaying similar integration activity but very different excision efficiency. Promoter strength correlates with integrase excision activity: the weaker the promoter, the stronger the integrase. The tight relationship between the aptitude of class 1 integrons to recombine cassettes and express gene cassettes may be a key to understanding the short-term evolution of integrons. Dissemination of integron-driven drug resistance is therefore more complex than previously thought.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Integrons are genetic elements able to integrate and disseminate genes as cassettes by a site-specific recombination mechanism. These elements contain a gene coding for an integrase that carries out recombination by interacting with two different target sites; the attI site in cis with the integrase and the palindromic attC site of a gene cassette. Integron integrases (IntIs) bind specifically to the bottom strand of attC sites. The extrahelical bases resulting from folding of attC bottom strands are important for the recognition by integrases. These enzymes are directly involved in the accumulation and formation of new cassette arrangements in the variable region of integrons. Thus, it is important to better understand interactions between IntIs and their substrates. RESULTS:We compared the ability of five IntIs to carry out excision of several cassettes flanked by different attC sites. The results showed that for most cassettes, IntI1 was the most active integrase. However, IntI2*179E and SonIntIA could easily excise cassettes containing the attCdfrA1 site located upstream, whereas IntI1 and IntI3 had only a weak excision activity for these cassettes. Analysis of the secondary structure adopted by the bottom strand of attCdfrA1 has shown that the identity of the extrahelical bases and the distance between them (A-N7-8-C) differ from those of attCs contained in the cassettes most easily excisable by IntI1 (T-N6-G). We used the attCdfrA1 site upstream of the sat2 gene cassette as a template and varied the identity and spacing between the extrahelical bases in order to determine how these modifications influence the ability of IntI1, IntI2*179E, IntI3 and SonIntIA to excise cassettes. Our results show that IntI1 is more efficient in cassette excision using T-N6-G or T-N6-C attCs while IntI3 recognizes only a limited range of attCs. IntI2*179E and SonIntIA are more tolerant of changes to the identity and spacing of extrahelical bases. CONCLUSIONS:This study provides new insights into the factors that influence the efficiency of cassette excision by integron integrases. It also suggests that IntI2 and SonIntIA have an evolutionary path that is different from IntI1 and IntI3, in their ability to recognize and excise cassettes.
Project description:Resistance integrons are bacterial genetic platforms that can capture and express antibiotic resistance genes embedded within gene cassettes. The capture and shuffling of gene cassettes are mediated by the integrase IntI, the expression of which is regulated by the SOS response in Escherichia coli. Gene cassettes are expressed from a common Pc promoter. Despite the clinical and environmental relevance of integrons, the selective forces responsible for their evolution and maintenance are poorly understood. Here, we conducted pairwise competition experiments in order to assess the fitness cost of class 1 integrons in E. coli. We found that integrons are low-cost structures and that their cost is further reduced by their tight regulation. We show that the SOS response prevents the expression of costly integrases whose cost is activity dependent. Thus, when an integron is repressed, its cost depends mostly on the expression of its gene cassettes array and increases with Pc strength and the number of cassettes in the array. Furthermore, different cassettes have different costs. Lastly, we showed that subinhibitory antibiotic concentrations promoted the selection of integron-carrying bacteria, especially those with a strong Pc promoter. These results provide new insights into the evolutionary dynamics of integron-carrying bacterial populations.
Project description:Integrons capture gene cassettes by using a site-specific recombination mechanism. As only one class of integron and integron-determined site-specific recombination system has been studied in detail, the properties of a second class, the only known class 3 integron, were examined. The configuration of the three potentially definitive features of integrons, the intI3 gene, the adjacent attI3 recombination site, and the P(c) promoter that directs transcription of the cassettes, was similar to that found in the corresponding region (5' conserved segment) of class 1 integrons. The integron features are flanked by a copy of the terminal inverted repeat, IRi, from class 1 integrons on one side and a resolvase-encoding tniR gene on the other, suggesting that they are part of a transposable element related to Tn402 but with the integron module in the opposite orientation. The IntI3 integrase was active and able to recognize and recombine both known types of IntI-specific recombination sites, the attI3 site in the integron, and different cassette-associated 59-be (59-base element) sites. Both integration of circularized cassettes into the attI3 site and excision of integrated cassettes were also catalyzed by IntI3. The attI3 site was localized to a short region adjacent to the intI3 gene. Recombination between a 59-be and secondary sites was also catalyzed by IntI3, but at frequencies significantly lower than observed with IntI1, the class 1 integron integrase.
Project description:Integrons are powerful bacterial genetic elements that permit the expression and dissemination of antibiotic-resistance gene cassettes. They contain a promoter Pc that allows the expression of gene cassettes captured through site-specific recombination catalyzed by IntI, the integron-encoded integrase. Class 1 and 2 integrons are found in both clinical and environmental settings. The regulation of intI and of Pc promoters has been extensively studied in class 1 integrons and the regulatory role of the SOS response on intI expression has been shown. Here we investigated class 2 integrons. We characterized the PintI2 promoter and showed that intI2 expression is not regulated via the SOS response. We also showed that, unlike class 1 integrons, class 2 integrons possess not one but two active Pc promoters that are located within the attI2 region that seem to contribute equally to gene cassette expression. Class 2 integrons mostly encode an inactive truncated integrase, but the rare class 2 integrons that encode an active integrase are associated with less efficient Pc2 promoter variants. We propose an evolutionary model for class 2 integrons in which the absence of repression of the integrase gene expression led to mutations resulting in either inactive integrase or Pc variants of weaker activity, thereby reducing the potential fitness cost of these integrons.