The association of group IIB intron with integrons in hypersaline environments

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Biology Department

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Research Article

Publication Title

Mobile DNA

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Background: Group II introns are mobile genetic elements used as efficient gene targeting tools. They function as both ribozymes and retroelements. Group IIC introns are the only class reported so far to be associated with integrons. In order to identify group II introns linked with integrons and CALINS (cluster of attC sites lacking a neighboring integron integrase) within halophiles, we mined for integrons in 28 assembled metagenomes from hypersaline environments and publically available 104 halophilic genomes using Integron Finder followed by blast search for group II intron reverse transcriptases (RT)s. Results: We report the presence of different group II introns associated with integrons and integron-related sequences denoted by UHB.F1, UHB.I2, H.ha.F1 and H.ha.F2. The first two were identified within putative integrons in the metagenome of Tanatar-5 hypersaline soda lake, belonging to IIC and IIB intron classes, respectively at which the first was a truncated intron. Other truncated introns H.ha.F1 and H.ha.F2 were also detected in a CALIN within the extreme halophile Halorhodospira halochloris, both belonging to group IIB introns. The intron-encoded proteins (IEP) s identified within group IIB introns belonged to different classes: CL1 class in UHB.I2 and bacterial class E in H.ha.Fa1 and H.ha.F2. A newly identified insertion sequence (ISHahl1) of IS200/605 superfamily was also identified adjacent to H. halochloris CALIN. Finally, an abundance of toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems was observed within the identified integrons. Conclusion: So far, this is the first investigation of group II introns within integrons in halophilic genomes and metagenomes from hypersaline environments. We report the presence of group IIB introns associated with integrons or CALINs. This study provides the basis for understanding the role of group IIB introns in the evolution of halophiles and their potential biotechnological role.

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