Four genes, two ends, and a res region are involved in transposition of Tn5053: a paradigm for a novel family of transposons carrying either a mer operon or an integron

Mol Microbiol. 1995 Sep;17(6):1189-200. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2958.1995.mmi_17061189.x.


The complete nucleotide sequence of an 8447 bp-long mercury-resistance transposon (Tn5053) has been determined. Tn5053 is composed of two modules: (i) the mercury-resistance module and (ii) the transposition module. The mercury-resistance module carries a mer operon, merRTPFAD, and appears to be a single-ended relic of a transposon closely related to the classical mercury-resistance transposons Tn21 and Tn501. The transposition module of Tn5053 is bounded by 25 bp terminal inverted repeats and contains four genes involved in transposition, i.e. tniA, tniB, tniQ, and tniR. Transposition of Tn5053 occurs via cointegrate formation mediated by the products of the tniABQ genes, followed by site-specific cointegrate resolution. This is catalysed by the product of the tniR gene at the res region, which is located upstream of tniR. The same pathway of transposition is used by Tn402 (Tn5090) which carries the integron of R751. Transposition genes of Tn5053 and Tn402 are interchangeable. Sequence analysis suggests that Tn5053 and Tn402 are representatives of a new family of transposable elements, which fall into a recently recognized super-family of transposons including retroviruses, insertion sequences of the IS3 family, and transposons Tn552 and Tn7. We suggest that the tni genes were involved in the dissemination of integrons.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics*
  • Bacterial Proteins / physiology
  • Base Sequence
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics*
  • Carrier Proteins / physiology
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Consensus Sequence
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases / genetics*
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases / physiology
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • DNA Transposable Elements / physiology
  • Drug Resistance, Microbial / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Genes, Bacterial*
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • Mercury / pharmacology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Operon / genetics*
  • Transposases


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Carrier Proteins
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Intracellular Signaling Peptides and Proteins
  • TniB protein, Klebsiella aerogenes
  • DNA Nucleotidyltransferases
  • Transposases
  • Mercury

Associated data

  • GENBANK/L40585