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Genome Watch

Breaking the ICE


Integrative and conjugative elements (ICEs) are being identified in increasing numbers. Although some of the elements now classified as ICEs were discovered a long time ago, such as pSAM2 (1984) and Tn916 (1995), the similarities between these elements have only recently been recognized. ICEs can allow bacteria to survive in new environments and acquire virulence factors, and can have profound effects on the bacterial genome.

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Figure 1: Model of the life cycle of an integrative and conjugative element (ICE).


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Entrez Genome Project

Escherichia coli

Klebsiella pneumoniae

Lactococcus lactis

Orientia tsutsugamushi

Pseudomonas fluorescens Pf-5

Streptococcus agalactiae

Streptococcus equi subspecies zooepidemicus

Streptococcus thermophilus

Streptococcus pneumoniae

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Seth-Smith, H., Croucher, N. Breaking the ICE. Nat Rev Microbiol 7, 328–329 (2009).

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