1887

Abstract

Of 830 isolates obtained from healthy carriers in Bavaria, Germany, 136 (164%) lacked the operons necessary for the synthesis, lipid modification, and transport of capsular polysaccharide. These operons were replaced by a non-coding intergenic region either 113 or 114 bp in length, termed here the capsule null locus (). Comparisons of the nucleotide sequence of this region in the meningococcus and its acapsulate relatives, and , revealed six distinct sequence variants ( to ), with a total of 10 nucleotide substitutions and three indels. With the exception of one 4 bp insertion, which was unique to a gonococcal isolate, all of the individual sequence changes were present in the isolates examined. The meningococcal isolates with a belonged to one of four otherwise genetically diverse genetic groupings: the ST-53 and ST-1117 complexes (75 isolates); the ST-845 complex (12 isolates); the ST-198 and 1136 complexes (46 isolates), and the ST-44 complex (one isolate). These data demonstrated that a substantial proportion of carried meningococci were incapable of capsule production, that the circulated within populations by horizontal genetic exchange, and that the expression of a polysaccharide capsule was not a requirement for person-to-person transmission of certain meningococcal lineages.

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2002-06-01
2020-09-28
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