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.
|Number of pages||12|
|Journal||Journal of Bacteriology|
|Publication status||Published - Jul 2008|