Mobility and generation of mosaic non-autonomous transposons by Tn3-derived inverted-repeat miniature elements (TIMEs)

PLoS One. 2014 Aug 14;9(8):e105010. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0105010. eCollection 2014.


Functional transposable elements (TEs) of several Pseudomonas spp. strains isolated from black shale ore of Lubin mine and from post-flotation tailings of Zelazny Most in Poland, were identified using a positive selection trap plasmid strategy. This approach led to the capture and characterization of (i) 13 insertion sequences from 5 IS families (IS3, IS5, ISL3, IS30 and IS1380), (ii) isoforms of two Tn3-family transposons--Tn5563a and Tn4662a (the latter contains a toxin-antitoxin system), as well as (iii) non-autonomous TEs of diverse structure, ranging in size from 262 to 3892 bp. The non-autonomous elements transposed into AT-rich DNA regions and generated 5- or 6-bp sequence duplications at the target site of transposition. Although these TEs lack a transposase gene, they contain homologous 38-bp-long terminal inverted repeat sequences (IRs), highly conserved in Tn5563a and many other Tn3-family transposons. The simplest elements of this type, designated TIMEs (Tn3 family-derived Inverted-repeat Miniature Elements) (262 bp), were identified within two natural plasmids (pZM1P1 and pLM8P2) of Pseudomonas spp. It was demonstrated that TIMEs are able to mobilize segments of plasmid DNA for transposition, which results in the generation of more complex non-autonomous elements, resembling IS-driven composite transposons in structure. Such transposon-like elements may contain different functional genetic modules in their core regions, including plasmid replication systems. Another non-autonomous element "captured" with a trap plasmid was a TIME derivative containing a predicted resolvase gene and a res site typical for many Tn3-family transposons. The identification of a portable site-specific recombination system is another intriguing example confirming the important role of non-autonomous TEs of the TIME family in shuffling genetic information in bacterial genomes. Transposition of such mosaic elements may have a significant impact on diversity and evolution, not only of transposons and plasmids, but also of other types of mobile genetic elements.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA / genetics
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mosaicism*
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • beta-Galactosidase / genetics


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA
  • beta-Galactosidase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/KJ765933
  • GENBANK/KJ765934
  • GENBANK/KJ765935
  • GENBANK/KJ920383
  • GENBANK/KJ920384
  • GENBANK/KJ920385
  • GENBANK/KJ920386
  • GENBANK/KJ920387
  • GENBANK/KJ920388
  • GENBANK/KJ920389
  • GENBANK/KJ920390
  • GENBANK/KJ920391
  • GENBANK/KJ920392
  • GENBANK/KJ920393
  • GENBANK/KJ920394
  • GENBANK/KJ920395
  • GENBANK/KJ920396
  • GENBANK/KJ920397
  • GENBANK/KJ920398
  • GENBANK/KJ920399
  • GENBANK/KJ934990
  • GENBANK/KJ940992
  • GENBANK/KJ940993
  • GENBANK/KJ940994
  • GENBANK/KJ940995

Grant support

This work was supported by the National Science Centre, Poland (grant N N303 579238). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.