Discovery of Bacillus thuringiensis Virulence Genes Using Signature-Tagged Mutagenesis in an Insect Model of Septicaemia
The 4149-bp transposon Tn4430 from Bacillus thuringiensis is delineated by 38-bp inverted repeats and codes for a 113-kd protein that shares homology with the transposases (TnpA) of Tn3, Tn21 and Tn501. Through transpositional recombination, this protein generates the formation of co-integrates between both donor and target replicons, with duplication of Tn4430 molecules. These features are characteristic of transposons of the Tn3 family (class II elements). The second step of the transposition process, the co-integrate resolution, is mediated by a 32-kd protein. This protein (TnpI) displays regional similarities with site-specific recombinases of the integrase family, such as Int of bacteriophage lambda, Cre of bacteriophage P1 or TnpA and TnpB of the Tn554 transposon. Moreover, the 250-bp sequence upstream to the tnpI gene contains several structural features that are reminiscent of the attP attachment site of phage lambda. This unique association between the integrase-like TnpI recombinase and the TnpA transposase qualifies Tn4430 as a member of a new group within the class II mobile genetic elements.