Integrative and Conjugative Elements (ICEs): What They Do and How They Work

Annual Review of Genetics
Christopher M Johnson, Alan D Grossman

Abstract

Horizontal gene transfer plays a major role in microbial evolution, allowing microbes to acquire new genes and phenotypes. Integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs, a.k.a. conjugative transposons) are modular mobile genetic elements integrated into a host genome and are passively propagated during chromosomal replication and cell division. Induction of ICE gene expression leads to excision, production of the conserved conjugation machinery (a type IV secretion system), and the potential to transfer DNA to appropriate recipients. ICEs typically contain cargo genes that are not usually related to the ICE life cycle and that confer phenotypes to host cells. We summarize the life cycle and discovery of ICEs, some of the regulatory mechanisms, and how the types of cargo have influenced our view of ICEs. We discuss how ICEs can acquire new cargo genes and describe challenges to the field and various perspectives on ICE biology.

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Methods Mentioned

BETA
ICEs
ICE
restriction-modification

Related Concepts

Bacterial Conjugation
DNA Transposons
DNA Replication
DNA, Bacterial
Episomes
Recombination, Genetic
Recombination, Interspecies
Antibiotic Resistance, Bacterial
Cell Division
Biological Evolution

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