Potential role of group IIC-attC introns in integron cassette formation.
ABSTRACT: Integrons are natural expression vectors in which gene cassettes are integrated downstream of a promoter region by a site-specific recombinase. Gene cassettes usually consist of a single gene followed by a recombination site designated attC. A major unanswered question is how a gene becomes associated with an attC site. Here, we investigate the potential role of a specific lineage of group IIC introns, named group IIC-attC, in cassette formation. Group IIC-attC introns preferentially target attC while retaining the ability to target transcriptional terminators. We show using a PCR-based mobility assay with Escherichia coli that the S.ma.I2 intron from the genome of a clinical isolate of Serratia marcescens can target both attC site and putative terminator motifs of resistance genes. Quantitative results showed that S.ma.I2 is more efficient in targeting various attC sequences than three group IIC-attC introns (54 to 64% sequence identity) from the genomes of environmental isolates. We also show that purified group IIC-attC intron-encoded reverse transcriptases have both RNA-dependent and DNA-dependent DNA polymerase activities in vitro. These data permit us to suggest a new model for gene cassette formation, in which a group IIC-attC intron targets separately a transcriptional terminator adjoining a gene and an isolated attC, joins the gene and the attC by homologous recombination, and then splices and reverse transcribes a gene-attC RNA template, leading to the formation of a cassette.
Project description:Integrons are genetic elements that incorporate mobile gene cassettes by site-specific recombination and express them as an operon from a promoter (Pc) located upstream of the cassette insertion site. Most gene cassettes found in integrons contain only one gene followed by an attC recombination site. We have recently shown that a specific lineage of group IIC introns, named group IIC-attC introns, inserts into the bottom strand sequence of attC sites. Here, we show that S.ma.I2, a group IIC-attC intron inserted in an integron cassette array of Serratia marcescens, impedes transcription from Pc while allowing expression of the following antibiotic resistance cassette using an internal outward-oriented promoter (P(out)). Bioinformatic analyses indicate that one or two putative P(out), which have sequence similarities with the Escherichia coli consensus promoters, are conserved in most group IIC-attC intron sequences. We show that P(out) with different versions of the -35 and -10 sequences are functionally active in expressing a promoterless chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (cat) reporter gene in E. coli. P(out) in group IIC-attC introns may therefore play a role in the expression of one or more gene cassettes whose transcription from Pc would otherwise be impeded by insertion of the intron.
Project description:A potential role of group IIC-attC introns in integron gene cassette formation, that is, the way in which they could provide the attC sequence essential for recombination, has been proposed. Group IIC introns usually target the attC site of gene cassettes and more specifically their inverse core. Here we characterized a novel group IIC intron targeting the core site of the aadA1 gene cassette attC site (aadA1-qacEΔ1 gene cassette junction) from enterobacterial isolates. Intron mobility (retrohoming) was analyzed using a two-plasmid assay performed in Escherichia coli. Intron mobility assays confirmed the mobilization-integration of the group II intron into the core site of the aadA2, bla(VIM-2), bla(CARB-2), aac(6')-Ib, dfrXVb, arr2, cmlA4, and aadB gene cassettes but not into the attI site. This mobility was dependent on maturase activity. Reverse transcriptase PCR showed that this intron was transcriptionally active, and an intermediate circular form was detected by inverse PCR. This element was linked to the bla(VEB-1) extended-spectrum β-lactamase gene in a high number of enterobacterial isolates. A phylogenetic tree showed that the identified element was located in a branch separate from group IIC-attC introns, being an IIC intron possessing the ability to integrate using the core site of the attC sites as target.
Project description:We analyzed the role of integrons in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance in a recent multiresistant clinical isolate, Serratia marcescens SCH88050909 (SCH909). This isolate harbors three integrons, all on a 60-kb conjugative plasmid. By PCR, hybridization, and sequencing analyses, we found that integron 1 has the dfrA1 and ant(3")-Ia cassettes. The first cassette in integron 2 contains the ant(2")-Ia gene, separated from its attC site (59-base element) by a 1,971-bp insert containing a group II intron; this intron codes for a putative maturase-reverse transcriptase on the complementary strand and is the first such intron to be found associated with an integron. The attC site is followed by a novel aminoglycoside resistance gene, ant(3")-Ii-aac(6')-IId, which has been characterized for its bifunctional ANT(3")-I and AAC(6')-II activities. DNA sequence analysis of this fused cassette suggests that insertion and excision due to the integrase activity could have an important role in the evolution of aminoglycoside resistance genes. This gene is followed by an unknown open reading frame with a typical attC site and a partial cassette composed of the beginning of the bla(OXA-10) cassette interrupted by IS1. The sequence downstream of IS1 revealed that the bla(OXA-10) cassette is incomplete and that the 3' conserved segment of this integron is absent. Integron 3 is in a Tn1696-like transposon with the aac(3)-Ia cassette followed by three unknown cassettes and ant(3")-Ia. The presence of the group II intron and the relationship of group II introns in eubacteria with mobile elements suggest a possible role of this element in events such as cassette formation and/or plasmid evolution.
Project description:An Escherichia coli strain, isolated from wild reindeer in a remote mountain area, contained a class 1 integron with two unusual features: a group II intron and a cassette with homology to a superintegron cassette. Alignments indicate that attC sites of gene cassettes may be insertion sites for introns.
Project description:The thermostable Geobacillus stearothermophilus GsI-IIC intron is among the few bacterial group II introns found to proliferate to high copy number in its host genome. Here, we developed a bacterial genetic assay for retrohoming and biochemical assays for protein-dependent and self-splicing of GsI-IIC. We found that GsI-IIC, like other group IIC introns, retrohomes into sites having a 5'-exon DNA hairpin, typically from a bacterial transcription terminator, followed by short intron-binding sequences (IBSs) recognized by base pairing of exon-binding sequences (EBSs) in the intron RNA. Intron RNA insertion occurs preferentially but not exclusively into the parental lagging strand at DNA replication forks, using a nascent lagging strand DNA as a primer for reverse transcription. In vivo mobility assays, selections, and mutagenesis indicated that a variety of GC-rich DNA hairpins of 7-19 bp with continuous base pairs or internal elbow regions support efficient intron mobility and identified a critically recognized nucleotide (T-5) between the hairpin and IBS1, a feature not reported previously for group IIC introns. Neither the hairpin nor T-5 is required for intron excision or lariat formation during RNA splicing, but the 5'-exon sequence can affect the efficiency of exon ligation. Structural modeling suggests that the 5'-exon DNA hairpin and T-5 bind to the thumb and DNA-binding domains of GsI-IIC reverse transcriptase. This mode of DNA target site recognition enables the intron to proliferate to high copy number by recognizing numerous transcription terminators and then finding the best match for the EBS/IBS interactions within a short distance downstream.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>Group II introns are mobile genetic elements used as efficient gene targeting tools. They function as both ribozymes and retroelements. Group IIC introns are the only class reported so far to be associated with integrons. In order to identify group II introns linked with integrons and CALINS (cluster of attC sites lacking a neighboring integron integrase) within halophiles, we mined for integrons in 28 assembled metagenomes from hypersaline environments and publically available 104 halophilic genomes using Integron Finder followed by blast search for group II intron reverse transcriptases (RT)s.<h4>Results</h4>We report the presence of different group II introns associated with integrons and integron-related sequences denoted by UHB.F1, UHB.I2, H.ha.F1 and H.ha.F2. The first two were identified within putative integrons in the metagenome of Tanatar-5 hypersaline soda lake, belonging to IIC and IIB intron classes, respectively at which the first was a truncated intron. Other truncated introns H.ha.F1 and H.ha.F2 were also detected in a CALIN within the extreme halophile Halorhodospira halochloris, both belonging to group IIB introns. The intron-encoded proteins (IEP) s identified within group IIB introns belonged to different classes: CL1 class in UHB.I2 and bacterial class E in H.ha.Fa1 and H.ha.F2. A newly identified insertion sequence (ISHahl1) of IS200/605 superfamily was also identified adjacent to H. halochloris CALIN. Finally, an abundance of toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems was observed within the identified integrons.<h4>Conclusion</h4>So far, this is the first investigation of group II introns within integrons in halophilic genomes and metagenomes from hypersaline environments. We report the presence of group IIB introns associated with integrons or CALINs. This study provides the basis for understanding the role of group IIB introns in the evolution of halophiles and their potential biotechnological role.
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:The gene cassettes found in class 1 integrons are generally promoterless units composed by an open reading frame (ORF), a short 5' untranslated region (UTR) and a 3' recombination site ( attC). Fused gene cassettes are generated by partial or total loss of the attC from the first cassette in an array, creating, in some cases, a fusion with the ORF from the next cassette. These structures are rare and little is known about their mechanisms of mobilization and expression. The aim of this study was to evaluate the dynamic of mobilization and transcription of the gcu14-bla GES-1 /aacA4 gene cassette array, which harbours a fused gene cassette represented by bla GES-1 /aacA4. The cassette array was analyzed by Northern blot and real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) in order to assess the transcription mechanism of bla GES-1 /aacA4 fused cassette. Also, inverse polymerase chain reactions (PCR) were performed to detect the free circular forms of gcu14, bla GES-1 and aacA4. The Northern blot and real time RT-PCR revealed a polycistronic transcription, in which the fused cassette bla GES-1 /aacA4 is transcribed as a unique gene, while gcu14 (with a canonical attC recombination site) has a monocistronic transcription. The gcu14 cassette, closer to the weak configuration of cassette promoter (PcW), had a higher transcription level than bla GES-1/ aacA4, indicating that the cassette position affects the transcript amounts. The presence of ORF-11 at attI1, immediately preceding gcu14, and of a Shine-Dalgarno sequence upstream bla GES-1/ aacA4 composes a scenario for the occurrence of array translation. Inverse PCR generated amplicons corresponding to gcu14, gcu14-aacA4 and gcu14-bla GES-1/ aacA4 free circular forms, but not to bla GES-1 and aacA4 alone, indicating that the GES-1 truncated attC is not substrate of integrase activity and that these genes are mobilized together as a unique cassette. This study was original in showing the transcription of fused cassettes and in correlating cassette position with transcription.
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 facilitate the evolution of complex phenotypes by physical and transcriptional linkage of genes. They can be categorized as chromosomal integrons (CIs) or mobile resistance integrons (MRIs). The significance of MRIs for the problem of multiple antibiotic resistance is well established. CIs are more widespread, but their only demonstrated significance is as a reservoir of gene cassettes for MRIs. In characterizing CIs associated with Pseudomonas, we discovered a subfamily of insertion sequences, termed the IS1111-attC group, that insert into the recombination sites of gene cassettes (attC site) by site-specific recombination. IS1111-attC elements appear to have recently spread from Pseudomonas species to clinical class 1 integrons. Such elements are expected to significantly impact integrons. To explore this further, we examined CIs in 24 strains representing multiple levels of evolutionary divergence within the genus Pseudomonas. Cassette arrays frequently had a degenerated "footprint" of an IS1111-attC group element at their terminus and in three cases were occupied by multiple functional IS1111-attC elements. Within Pseudomonas spp. the IS-integron interaction appears to follow an evolutionarily rapid cycle of infection, expansion, and extinction. The final outcome is extinction of the IS element and modification of the right-hand boundary of the integron. This system represents an unusual example of convergent evolution whereby heterologous families of site-specific recombinases of distinct genetic elements have adopted the same target site. The interactions described here represent a model for evolutionary processes that offer insights to a number of aspects of the biology of integrons and other mosaic genetic elements.