Characterization of two alternative promoters for integrase expression in the clc genomic island of Pseudomonas sp. strain B13

Authors

  • V. Sentchilo,

    1. Process of Environmental Microbiology and Molecular Ecotoxicology, Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG), Ueberlandstrasse 133, Postfach 611, CH 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.
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  • A. J. B. Zehnder,

    1. Process of Environmental Microbiology and Molecular Ecotoxicology, Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG), Ueberlandstrasse 133, Postfach 611, CH 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.
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  • J. R. Van Der Meer

    Corresponding author
    1. Process of Environmental Microbiology and Molecular Ecotoxicology, Swiss Federal Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (EAWAG), Ueberlandstrasse 133, Postfach 611, CH 8600 Dübendorf, Switzerland.
      E-mail: vdmeer@eawag.ch; Tel. (+41) 1823 5438; Fax (+41) 1823 5547.
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E-mail: vdmeer@eawag.ch; Tel. (+41) 1823 5438; Fax (+41) 1823 5547.

Summary

The clc genomic island is a 105 kb integrative and conjugative element (ICE) in Pseudomonas sp. strain B13, which encodes metabolism of 3-chlorocatechol. The clc island is integrated in a tRNAGly gene, but can excise and form a circular intermediate in which both ends are connected. The integrase gene (intB13) of the clc genomic island is located at the right end, 202 bp from the junction site facing inwards. Fragments upstream of intB13 in the circular form and in the integrated form were fused to a promoterless gfp gene for Green Fluorescent Protein and introduced in monocopy onto the chromosome of strain B13. Quantitative GFP fluorescence measurements in individual cells of the different B13-derivatives revealed that the circular form fragment contained a strong constitutive promoter (Pcirc) driving intB13 expression in all cells. By using primer extension Pcirc could be mapped near the left end of the clc element and Pcirc can therefore only control intB13 expression when left and right ends are connected as in the circular form. Expression from intB13 upstream fragments from the integrated clc element was weaker than that from Pcirc and only occurred in maximally 15% of individual cells in a culture. A promoter (Pint) could be roughly mapped in this region by using reverse-transcription PCR and by successively shortening the fragment from the 5′ end. Transposon mutants in cloned left end sequences of the clc element were selected which had lost the activation potential on the Pint promoter and those which resulted in overexpression of GFP from Pint. The DNA sequence of the region of the transposon insertions pointed to a relatively well conserved area among various other genomic islands. The activator mutants mapped in an open reading frame (ORF) encoding a 175 amino acid protein without any significant similarity to functionally characterized proteins in the databases.

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