Bacteroides fragilis transfer factor Tn5520: The smallest bacterial mobilizable transposon containing single integrase and mobilization genes that function in Escherichia coli

Gayatri Vedantam, Thomas J. Novicki, David W. Hecht

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23 Scopus citations


Many bacterial genera, including Bacteroides spp., harbor mobilizable transposons, a class of transfer factors that carry genes for conjugal DNA transfer and, in some cases, antibiotic resistance. Mobilizable transposons are capable of inserting into and mobilizing other, nontransferable plasmids and are implicated in the dissemination of antibiotic resistance. This paper presents the isolation and characterization of Tn5520, a new mobilizable transposon from Bacteroides fragilis LV23. At 4,692 bp, it is the smallest mobilizable transposon reported from any bacterial genus. Tn5520 was captured from B. fragilis LV23 by using the transfer-deficient shuttle vector pGAT400ΔBgIII. The termini of Tn5520 contain a 22-bp imperfect inverted repeat, and transposition does not result in a target site repeat. Tn5520 also demonstrates insertion site sequence preferences characterized by A-T- rich nucleotide sequences. Tn5520 has been sequenced in its entirety, and two large open reading frames whose predicted protein products exhibit strong sequence similarity to recombinase-integrase enzymes and mobilization proteins, respectively, have been identified. The transfer, mobilization, and transposition properties of Tn5520 have been studied, revealing that Tn5520 mobilizes plasmids in both B. fragilis and Escherichia coli at high frequency and also transposes in E. coli.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2564-2571
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Apr 1 1999


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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