Background: The Salmonella genomic island 1 (SGI1) is a 42.4 kb integrative mobilizable element containing several antibiotic resistance determinants embedded in a complex integron segment In104. The numerous SGI1 variants identified so far, differ mainly in this segment and the explanations of their emergence were mostly based on comparative structure analyses. Here we provide experimental studies on the stability, entrapment and variant formation of this peculiar gene cluster originally found in S. Typhimurium. Methodology/Principal Findings: Segregation and conjugation tests and various molecular techniques were used to detect the emerging SGI1 variants in Salmonella populations of 17 Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium DT104 isolates from Hungary. The SGI1s in these isolates proved to be fully competent in excision, conjugal transfer by the IncA/C helper plasmid R55, and integration into the E. coli chromosome. A trap vector has been constructed and successfully applied to capture the island on a plasmid. Monitoring of segregation of SGI1 indicated high stability of the island. SGI1-free segregants did not accumulate during long-term propagation, but several SGI1 variants could be obtained. Most of them appeared to be identical to SGI1-B and SGI1-C, but two new variants caused by deletions via a short-homology-dependent recombination process have also been detected. We have also noticed that the presence of the conjugation helper plasmid increased the formation of these deletion variants considerably. Conclusions/Significance: Despite that excision of SGI1 from the chromosome was proven in SGI1 + Salmonella populations, its complete loss could not be observed. On the other hand, we demonstrated that several variants, among them two newly identified ones, arose with detectable frequencies in these populations in a short timescale and their formation was promoted by the helper plasmid. This reflects that IncA/C helper plasmids are not only involved in the horizontal spreading of SGI1, but may also contribute to its evolution.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)