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Spread And Persistence Of Virulence And Antibiotic Resistance Genes: A Ride On The F Plasmid Conjugation Module.

G. Koraimann
Published 2018 · Biology, Medicine

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The F plasmid or F-factor is a large, 100-kbp, circular conjugative plasmid of Escherichia coli and was originally described as a vector for horizontal gene transfer and gene recombination in the late 1940s. Since then, F and related F-like plasmids have served as role models for bacterial conjugation. At present, more than 200 different F-like plasmids with highly related DNA transfer genes, including those for the assembly of a type IV secretion apparatus, are completely sequenced. They belong to the phylogenetically related MOBF12A group. F-like plasmids are present in enterobacterial hosts isolated from clinical as well as environmental samples all over the world. As conjugative plasmids, F-like plasmids carry genetic modules enabling plasmid replication, stable maintenance, and DNA transfer. In this plasmid backbone of approximately 60 kbp, the DNA transfer genes occupy the largest and mostly conserved part. Subgroups of MOBF12A plasmids can be defined based on the similarity of TraJ, a protein required for DNA transfer gene expression. In addition, F-like plasmids harbor accessory cargo genes, frequently embedded within transposons and/or integrons, which harness their host bacteria with antibiotic resistance and virulence genes, causing increasingly severe problems for the treatment of infectious diseases. Here, I focus on key genetic elements and their encoded proteins present on the F-factor and other typical F-like plasmids belonging to the MOBF12A group of conjugative plasmids.
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