Regulation of horizontal gene transfer of the catabolic island ICEclc


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PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Regulation of horizontal gene transfer of the catabolic island ICEclc
Pradervand N.
van der Meer J. R.
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Université de Lausanne, Faculté de biologie et médecine
Faculté de biologie et de médecine
Rue du Bugnon 21 - bureau 4111
CH-1015 Lausanne
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ICEclc is a mobile genetic element found in two copies on the chromosome of the bacterium Pseudomonas knackmussii B13. ICEclc harbors genes encoding metabolic pathways for the degradation of chlorocatechols (CLC) and 2-aminophenol (2AP). At low frequencies, ICEclc excises from the chromosome, closes into a circular DNA molecule which can transfer to another bacterium via conjugation. Once in the recipient cell, ICEclc can reintegrate into the chromosome by site-specific recombination. This thesis aimed at identifying the regulatory network underlying the decisions for ICEclc horizontal transfer (HGT).
The first chapter is an introduction on integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs) more in general, of which ICEclc is one example. In particular I emphasized the current knowledge of regulation and conjugation machineries of the different classes of ICE.
In the second chapter, I describe a transcriptional analysis using microarrays and other experiments to understand expression of ICEclc in exponential and stationary phase. By overlaying transcriptomic profiles with Northern hybridizations and RT- PCR data, we established a transcription map for the entire core region of ICEclc, a region assumed to encode the ICE conjugation process. We also demonstrated how transcription of the ICEclc core is maximal in stationary phase, which correlates to expression of reporter genes fused to key ICEclc promoters.
In the third chapter, I present a transcriptome analysis of ICEclc in a variety of different host species, in order to explore whether there are species-specific differences.
In the fourth chapter, I focus on the role of a curious ICEclc-encoded TetR-type transcriptional repressor. We find that this gene, which we name mfsR, not only controls its own expression but that of a set of genes for a putative multi-drug efflux pump (mfsABC) as well. By using a combination of biochemical and molecular biology techniques, I could show that MfsR specifically binds to operator boxes in two ICEclc promoters (PmfsR and PmfsA), inhibiting the transcription of both the mfsR and mfsABC-orf38184 operons. Although we could not detect a clear phenotype of an mfsABC deletion, we discuss the implications of pump gene reorganizations in ICEclc and close relatives.
In the fifth chapter, we find that mfsR not only controls its own expression and that of the mfsABC operon, but is also indirectly controlling ICEclc transfer. Using gene deletions, microarrays, transfer assays and microscopy-based reporter fusions, we demonstrate that mfsR actually controls a small operon of three regulatory genes. The last gene of this mfsR operon, orf17162, encodes a LysR-type activator that when deleted strongly impairs ICEclc transfer. Interestingly, deletion of mfsR leads to transfer competence in almost all cells, thereby overruling the bistability process in the wild-type.
In the final sixth chapter, I discuss the relevance of the present thesis and the resulting perspectives for future studies.
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07/07/2014 12:19
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20/08/2019 14:01
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