Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 35326376
Link to DOI – 92510.3390/cells11060925
Cells 2022 03; 11(6):
Integrons are powerful recombination systems found in bacteria, which act as platforms capable of capturing, stockpiling, excising and reordering mobile elements called cassettes. These dynamic genetic machineries confer a very high potential of adaptation to their host and have quickly found themselves at the forefront of antibiotic resistance, allowing for the quick emergence of multi-resistant phenotypes in a wide range of bacterial species. Part of the success of the integron is explained by its ability to integrate various environmental and biological signals in order to allow the host to respond to these optimally. In this review, we highlight the substantial interconnectivity that exists between integrons and their hosts and its importance to face changing environments. We list the factors influencing the expression of the cassettes, the expression of the integrase, and the various recombination reactions catalyzed by the integrase. The combination of all these host factors allows for a very tight regulation of the system at the cost of a limited ability to spread by horizontal gene transfer and function in remotely related hosts. Hence, we underline the important consequences these factors have on the evolution of integrons. Indeed, we propose that sedentary chromosomal integrons that were less connected or connected via more universal factors are those that have been more successful upon mobilization in mobile genetic structures, in contrast to those that were connected to species-specific host factors. Thus, the level of specificity of the involved host factors network may have been decisive for the transition from chromosomal integrons to the mobile integrons, which are now widespread. As such, integrons represent a perfect example of the conflicting relationship between the ability to control a biological system and its potential for transferability.