Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 15866919
J. Bacteriol. 2005 May;187(10):3352-8
The horizontal transfer of genetic elements plays a major role in bacterial evolution. The high-pathogenicity island (HPI), which codes for an iron uptake system, is present and highly conserved in various Enterobacteriaceae, suggesting its recent acquisition by lateral gene transfer. The aim of this work was to determine whether the HPI has kept its ability to be transmitted horizontally. We demonstrate here that the HPI is indeed transferable from a donor to a recipient Yersinia pseudotuberculosis strain. This transfer was observable only when the donor and recipient bacteria were cocultured at low temperatures in a liquid medium. When optimized conditions were used (bacteria actively growing in an iron-deprived medium at 4 degrees C), the frequency of HPI transfer reached approximately 10(-8). The island was transferable to various serotype I strains of Y. pseudotuberculosis and to Yersinia pestis, but not to Y. pseudotuberculosis strains of serotypes II and IV or to Yersinia enterocolitica. Upon transfer, the HPI was inserted almost systematically into the asn3 tRNA locus. Acquisition of the HPI resulted in the loss of the resident island, suggesting an incompatibility between two copies of the HPI within the same strain. Transfer of the island did not require a functional HPI-borne insertion-excision machinery and was RecA dependent in the recipient but not the donor strain, suggesting that integration of the island into the recipient chromosome occurs via a mechanism of homologous recombination. This lateral transfer also involved the HPI-adjacent sequences, leading to the mobilization of a chromosomal region at least 46 kb in size.