The nucleotide sequence of the pilin gene from strain 351, currently classified as serogroup H, subgroup 2 (H2) has been determined. The gene encodes a single polypeptide (prepilin) of 160 amino acids and 17 150. However, pilin isolated from 351 migrates as two distinct bands in sodium dodecyl sulphate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, due to an internal peptide bond cleavage. Amino acid sequence studies of pilin from 351 have established that the cleavage occurs between Ala and Ser of the mature protein sequence. Comparisons of gene and amino acid sequences of pilin from 351 with the corresponding sequences from strains of serogroups D and H1 indicate that these sequences share a close relationship. However, the level of sequence identity between 351 pilin and pilin from strain 265 of serogroup H1 is lower than anticipated for strains within a serogroup and suggests that 265 and 351 should not be classified within the same serogroup.


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