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Tn554—a site-specific represser-controlled transposon in Staphylococcus aureus


PREVIOUS studies have defined a specific element in Staphylococcus aureus containing determinants of inducible erythromycin resistance and spectinomycin resistance. This element has many plasmid-like properties1,2 but is not associated with detectable extra-chromosomal DNA2. The resistances are similar in mechanism to those ordinarily associated with plasmids3,4 (J. Davies, personal communication); the element can be transferred by transduction2 or transformation to a rec recipient with the same efficiency as to a rec+, and the two determinants show essentially 100% linkage in genetic transfer. Consequently, this linkage group has previously been referred to as a ‘pseudoplasmid’ (ref. 2). On the basis of the results presented here, we suggest that this pseudoplasmid is actually the prototype of a new class of transposon, which functions by means of a highly efficient, represser-controlled, site-specific integration–excision mechanism. This transposon, designated Tn554 (EmSp), can be most easily envisaged as a prophage-like element that lacks replicative autonomy and other vegetative phage functions.

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PHILLIPS, S., NOVICK, R. Tn554—a site-specific represser-controlled transposon in Staphylococcus aureus. Nature 278, 476–478 (1979).

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