A new multicopy single-stranded DNA (msDNA-Ec73) was found in a clinical strain of Escherichia coli. Retron-Ec73, consisting of an msDNA-coding region and the gene for reverse transcriptase (RT), was found to be a part of a 12.7-kb foreign DNA fragment flanked by 29-bp direct repeats and integrated into the gene for selenocystyl-tRNA (selC) at 82 min on the E. coli chromosome. Except for the 2.4-kb retron region, the integrated DNA fragment showed remarkable homology to most of the bacteriophage P4 genome. Among the phage genes found in this element, however, the integrase gene had very low identity (40%) to P4 integrase, indicating that the cryptic prophage associated with the retroelement has its own unique site-specific integrase different from P4 integrase. Recently, we have shown that P2 phage can act as a helper to excise the cryptic prophage and to package its genome into an infectious virion. The newly formed phage (retronphage φR73) can also lysogenize a new host strain, reintegrating its genome into the selC gene and enabling the newly formed lysogen to produce msDNA-Ec73 (S. Inouye, M. G. Sunshine, E. W. Six, and M. Inouye, Science 252:969-971, 1991).
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology