Caister Academic Press

CIMB Abstract

Curr. Issues Mol. Biol. (2018) 29: 3-22.
https://doi.org/10.21775/cimb.029.003

Horizontal Gene Transfers in Mycoplasmas (Mollicutes)

C. Citti, E. Dordet-Frisoni, L.X. Nouvel, CH Kuo and E. Baranowski

The class Mollicutes (trivial name "mycoplasma") is composed of wall-less bacteria with reduced genomes whose evolution was long thought to be only driven by gene losses. Recent evidences of massive horizontal gene transfer (HGT) within and across species provided a new frame to understand the successful adaptation of these minimal bacteria to a broad range of hosts. Mobile genetic elements are being identified in a growing number of mycoplasma species, but integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs) are emerging as pivotal in HGT. While sharing common traits with other bacterial ICEs, such as their chromosomal integration and the use of a type IV secretion system to mediate horizontal dissemination, mycoplasma ICEs (MICEs) revealed unique features: their chromosomal integration is totally random and driven by a DDE recombinase related to the Mutator-like superfamily. Mycoplasma conjugation is not restricted to ICE transmission, but also involves the transfer of large chromosomal fragments that generates progenies with mosaic genomes, nearly every position of chromosome being mobile. Mycoplasmas have thus developed efficient ways to gain access to a considerable reservoir of genetic resources distributed among a vast number of species expanding the concept of minimal cell to the broader context of flowing information.

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