The Salmonella genomic island 1 is an integrative mobilizable element


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Salmonella genomic island 1 (SGI1) is a genomic island containing an antibiotic resistance gene cluster identified in several Salmonella enterica serovars. The SGI1 antibiotic resistance gene cluster, which is a complex class 1 integron, confers the common multidrug resistance phenotype of epidemic S. enterica Typhimurium DT104. The SGI1 occurrence in S. enterica serovars Typhimurium, Agona, Paratyphi B, Albany, Meleagridis and Newport indicates the horizontal transfer potential of SGI1. Here, we report that SGI1 could be conjugally transferred from S. enterica donor strains to non-SGI1 S. enterica and Escherichia coli recipient strains where it integrated into the recipient chromosome in a site-specific manner. First, an extrachromosomal circular form of SGI1 was identified by PCR which forms through a specific recombination of the left and right ends of the integrated SGI1. Chromosomal excision of SGI1 was found to require SGI1-encoded integrase which presents similarities to the lambdoid integrase family. Second, the conjugal transfer of SGI1 required the presence of a helper plasmid. The conjugative IncC plasmid R55 could thus mobilize in trans SGI1 which was transferred from the donor to the recipient strains. By this way, the conjugal transfer of SGI1 occurred at a frequency of 10−5−10−6 transconjugants per donor. No transconjugants could be obtained for the SGI1 donor lacking the int integrase gene. Third, chromosomal integration of SGI1 occurred via a site-specific recombination between a 18 bp sequence found in the circular form of SGI1 and a similar 18 bp sequence at the 3′ end of thdF gene in the S. enterica and E. coli chromosome. SGI1 appeared to be transmissible only in the presence of additional conjugative functions provided in trans. SGI1 can thus be classified within the group of integrative mobilizable elements (IMEs).