Conjugating plasmids are preferred targets for Tn7

Catherine A. Wolkow, Robert T. DeBoy, Nancy L. Craig

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Most transposons display target site selectivity, inserting preferentially into sites that contain particular features. The bacterial transposon Tn7 possesses the unusual ability to recognize two different classes of target sites. Tn7 inserts into these classes of target sites through two transposition pathways mediated by different combinations of the five Tn7-encoded transposition proteins. In one transposition pathway, Tn7 inserts into a unique site in the bacterial chromosome, attTn7, through specific recognition of sequences in attTn7; the other transposition pathway ignores the attTn7 target. Here we examine targets of the non-attTn7 pathway and find that Tn7 preferentially inserts into bacterial plasmids that can conjugate between cells. Furthermore, Tn7 appears to recognize preferred targets through the conjugation process, as we show that Tn7 inserts poorly into plasmids containing mutations that block plasmid transfer. We propose that Tn7 recognizes preferred targets through features of the conjugation process, a distinctive target specificity that offers Tn7 the ability to spread efficiently through bacterial populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2145-2157
Number of pages13
JournalGenes and Development
Issue number17
StatePublished - 1996


  • Tn7
  • Transposition
  • antibiotic resistance
  • conjugation
  • replication
  • target selection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Developmental Biology


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