The avian pathogen possesses a large gene family encoding lipoproteins which function as haemagglutinins. Representative species of the pneumoniae phylogenetic group of mycoplasmas were examined for the presence of genes homologous to members of this multigene family. Antisera against the pMGA1.1 lipoprotein recognized a 35 kDa protein in , but did not recognize proteins of or in Western blots. A fragment of the pMGA1.2 gene and oligonucleotide probes complementary to highly conserved coding and non-coding regions of pMGA genes bound to fragments of genomic DNA of , but not to the genomes of or , and only one probe bound to a fragment of the genome. One homologue of the pMGA genes was amplified from the genome by PCR and used as a probe to clone a 3.1 kbp DNA fragment from a library of III-digested genomic DNA. The contiguous DNA sequence of the PCR and III clones was predicted to encode one complete and one partial ORF which shared some peptide sequence identity with the pMGA genes, including the signal peptidase II cleavage site and the proline-rich amino-terminal region. Like the pMGA genes, the genes were found to be members of a large gene family, with an association with GAA trinucleotide repeats, a feature which distinguishes these two families from the homologous gene family in The identification of these gene families in three phylogenetically distinct avian mycoplasma species, but not in human mycoplasmas, suggests their horizontal transfer between species infecting the same host.


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