Tn916 transposition in Haemophilus influenzae Rd: preferential insertion into noncoding DNA
Nelson KE, Richardson DL, Dougherty BA
The availability of completely sequenced genomes has created an opportunity for high throughput mutational studies. Using the conjugative transposon Tn916, a pilot project was initiated to determine the efficiency of gene disruption in the first completely sequenced bacterium, Haemophilus influenzae Rd strain KW20. DNA was isolated from Tn916-mutagenized cells, and the point of transposon insertion was determined by inverse PCR, DNA sequencing, and mapping to the wild-type genome sequence. Analysis of the insertion sites at the nucleotide level demonstrated a biased pattern of insertion into regions rich in stretches of A's and T's. Although Tn916 integrated at multiple dispersed positions throughout the chromosome, 9 of 10 insertion events occurred in noncoding, intergenic DNA. It was determined that the intergenic DNA was over 5% more A + T-rich than that of protein coding sequences. This suggests that A + T-rich sequences similar to the Tn916 insertion site would be more likely to reside in the intergenic DNA. In an effort to identify other likely sites for transposon integration, a hidden Markov model of the consensus target insertion site was derived from the Tn916-H. influenzae junction fragments and searched against the entire genome. Eighty percent of the 30 highest-scoring predicted Tn916 target sites were from intergenic, nonprotein-coding regions of the genome. These data support the hypothesis that Tn916 has a marked preference for insertion into noncoding DNA for H. influenzae, suggesting that this mobile element has evolved to minimize disruption of host cell function on integration.