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Characterisation of mobile genetic elements in Mycoplasma hominis with the description of ICEHo-II, a variant mycoplasma integrative and conjugative element

  • Henrich, Birgit1
  • Hammerlage, Stephanie1
  • Scharf, Sebastian1, 2
  • Haberhausen, Diana1
  • Fürnkranz, Ursula3
  • Köhrer, Karl4
  • Peitzmann, Lena4
  • Fiori, Pier Luigi5
  • Spergser, Joachim6
  • Pfeffer, Klaus1
  • Dilthey, Alexander T.1, 7, 7
  • 1 Institute of Med. Microbiology and Hospital Hygiene of the Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany , Duesseldorf (Germany)
  • 2 University of Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany , Duesseldorf (Germany)
  • 3 Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria , Vienna (Austria)
  • 4 Biological and Medical Research Centre (BMFZ) of the Heinrich-Heine-University Duesseldorf, Duesseldorf, Germany , Duesseldorf (Germany)
  • 5 University of Sassari, Sassari, Italy , Sassari (Italy)
  • 6 University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Vienna, Austria , Vienna (Austria)
  • 7 University of Cologne, Cologne, Germany , Cologne (Germany)
Published Article
Mobile DNA
BioMed Central
Publication Date
Nov 07, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s13100-020-00225-9
Springer Nature


BackgroundMobile genetic elements are found in genomes throughout the microbial world, mediating genome plasticity and important prokaryotic phenotypes. Even the cell wall-less mycoplasmas, which are known to harbour a minimal set of genes, seem to accumulate mobile genetic elements. In Mycoplasma hominis, a facultative pathogen of the human urogenital tract and an inherently very heterogeneous species, four different MGE-classes had been detected until now: insertion sequence ISMhom-1, prophage MHoV-1, a tetracycline resistance mediating transposon, and ICEHo, a species-specific variant of a mycoplasma integrative and conjugative element encoding a T4SS secretion system (termed MICE).ResultsTo characterize the prevalence of these MGEs, genomes of 23 M. hominis isolates were assembled using whole genome sequencing and bioinformatically analysed for the presence of mobile genetic elements. In addition to the previously described MGEs, a new ICEHo variant was found, which we designate ICEHo-II. Of 15 ICEHo-II genes, five are common MICE genes; eight are unique to ICEHo-II; and two represent a duplication of a gene also present in ICEHo-I. In 150 M. hominis isolates and based on a screening PCR, prevalence of ICEHo-I was 40.7%; of ICEHo-II, 28.7%; and of both elements, 15.3%. Activity of ICEHo-I and -II was demonstrated by detection of circularized extrachromosomal forms of the elements through PCR and subsequent Sanger sequencing.ConclusionsNanopore sequencing enabled the identification of mobile genetic elements and of ICEHo-II, a novel MICE element of M. hominis, whose phenotypic impact and potential impact on pathogenicity can now be elucidated.

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