Multiple gene products and sequences required for excision of the mobilizable integrated Bacteroides element NBU1

J Bacteriol. 2000 Feb;182(4):928-36. doi: 10.1128/JB.182.4.928-936.2000.


NBU1 is an integrated 10.3-kbp Bacteroides element, which can excise and transfer to Bacteroides or Escherichia coli recipients, where it integrates into the recipient genome. NBU1 relies on large, >60-kbp, conjugative transposons for factors that trigger excision and for mobilization of the circular form to recipients. Previously, we showed that a single integrase gene, intN1, was necessary and sufficient for integration of NBU1 into its target site on the Bacteroides or E. coli genome. We now show that an unexpectedly large region of NBU1 is required for excision. This region includes, in addition to intN1, four open reading frames plus a large region downstream of the fourth gene, prmN1. This downstream sequence was designated XRS, for "excision-required sequence." XRS contains the oriT of the circular form of NBU1 and about two-thirds of the adjacent mobilization gene, mobN1. This is the first time an oriT, which is involved in conjugal transfer of the circular form, has been implicated in excision. Disruption of the gene immediately downstream of intN1, orf2, completely abolished excision. The next open reading frame, orf2x, was too small to be disrupted, so we still do not know whether it plays a role in the excision reaction. Deletions were made in each of two open reading frames downstream of orf2x, orf3 and prmN1. Both of these deletions abolished excision, indicating that these genes are also essential for excision. Attempts to complement various mutations in the excision region led us to realize that a portion of the excision region carrying prmN1 and part of the XRS (XRS(HIII)) inhibited excision when provided in trans on a multicopy plasmid (8 to 10 copies per cell). However, a fragment carrying prmN1, XRS, and the entire mobilization gene, mobN1, did not have this effect. The smaller fragment may be interfering with excision by attracting proteins made by the intact NBU1 and thus removing them from the excision complex. Our results show clearly that excision is a complex process that involves several proteins and a cis-acting region (XRS) which includes the oriT. We suggest that this complex excision machinery may be necessary to allow NBU1 to coordinate nicking at the ends during excision and nicking at the oriT during conjugal transfer, to prevent premature nicking at the oriT before NBU1 has excised and circularized.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism
  • Bacteroides / genetics*
  • Bacteroides / growth & development
  • Conjugation, Genetic*
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Open Reading Frames / genetics
  • Plasmids / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA, Bacterial
  • Transcription Factors
  • RteA protein, Bacteriodes

Associated data

  • GENBANK/L13840
  • GENBANK/U51917