Previously we have shown that the type strain of possesses two S-protein-encoding genes, one of which is silent, on a chromosomal segment of 6 kb. The S-protein-encoding gene in the expression site can be exchanged for the silent S-protein-encoding gene by inversion of this segment. In this study the presence of S-protein and corresponding S-protein-encoding genes of strains belonging to species that are closely related to was determined. All strains investigated were identified by numerical comparison of highly standardized one-dimensional SDS-PAGE whole-cellular-protein patterns. Western blot and Southern blot methods were used to identify the presence of, and homology between, S-proteins and S-protein-encoding genes. From these analyses we conclude that strains of and possess an S-layer and contain two genes. Strains of possess an S-layer but have only one intact gene. Strains of and subsp. have neither an S-layer nor S-protein-encoding genes hybridizing with probes derived from the or region. The presence of a highly conserved 5′ region in the genes of strains of and suggests that S-layer variation is a common feature for strains of these species.


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