Small mobile sequences in bacteria display diverse structure/function motifs

Mol Microbiol. 2008 Feb;67(3):475-81. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.2007.06068.x. Epub 2007 Dec 10.


Small repeat sequences in bacterial genomes, which represent non-autonomous mobile elements, have close similarities to archaeon and eukaryotic miniature inverted repeat transposable elements. These repeat elements are found in both intergenic and intragenic chromosomal regions, and contain an array of diverse motifs. These can include DNA sequences containing an integration host factor binding site and a proposed DNA methyltransferase recognition site, transcribed RNA secondary structural motifs, which are involved in mRNA regulation, and translated open reading frames found fused to other open reading frames. Some bacterial mobile element fusions are in evolutionarily conserved protein and RNA genes. Others might represent or lead to creation of new protein genes. Here we review the remarkable properties of these small bacterial mobile elements in the context of possible beneficial roles resulting from random insertions into the genome.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Bacteria / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Interspersed Repetitive Sequences*
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Recombination, Genetic
  • Repetitive Sequences, Nucleic Acid


  • DNA, Bacterial