Tn502 and Tn512 Are res Site Hunters That Provide Evidence of Resolvase-Independent Transposition to Random Sites Academic Article uri icon


  • In this study, we report on the transposition behavior of the mercury(II) resistance transposons Tn502 and Tn512, which are members of the Tn5053 family. These transposons exhibit targeted and oriented insertion in the par region of plasmid RP1, since par-encoded components, namely, the ParA resolvase and its cognate res region, are essential for such transposition. Tn502 and, under some circumstances, Tn512 can transpose when par is absent, providing evidence for an alternative, par-independent pathway of transposition. We show that the alternative pathway proceeds by a two-step replicative process involving random target selection and orientation of insertion, leading to the formation of cointegrates as the predominant product of the first stage of transposition. Cointegrates remain unresolved because the transposon-encoded (TniR) recombination system is relatively inefficient, as is the host-encoded (RecA) system. In the presence of the res-ParA recombination system, TniR-mediated (and RecA-mediated) cointegrate resolution is highly efficient, enabling resolution both of cointegrates involving functional transposons (Tn502 and Tn512) and of defective elements (In0 and In2). These findings implicate the target-encoded accessory functions in the second stage of transposition as well as in the first. We also show that the par-independent pathway enables the formation of deletions in the target molecule.

publication date

  • April 1, 2010