Medical Definition of Integron

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/21/2018

Integron: A mobile DNA element that can capture and carry genes, particularly those responsible for antibiotic resistance. Integrons do this by site-specific recombination.

There are at least three classes of integrons based upon which integrase gene they contain. The antibiotic resistance genes that integrons capture are located on gene cassettes. These cassettes can exist as free circular DNA. A recombination event occurs, integrating the cassette into the integron. Additional gene cassettes can integrate, resulting in the integration of several genes.

Although gene cassettes are a mechanism for the development of multiple antibiotic resistance, bacteria predating the use of antibiotics have also been found to contain cassettes.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018