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Abstract

Neisseria gonorrhoeae is capable of causing gonorrhoea and more complex diseases in the human host. Within the gonococcal genome are over 100 copies of the insertion sequence-like Correia repeat enclosed element (CREE), which has been predicted to be mobile within the neisserial genomes. Although there is evidence of ancestral movement of these elements, no previous study has provided evidence for current mobilization. CREE has the ability to alter gene expression and regulation in many ways: by insertional mutagenesis, by introducing promoter elements, by generating mRNA processing sites and by association with non-coding RNAs. Previous studies have compared the genomic locations of CREEs in the Neisseria spp., demonstrating that otherwise identical regions have either the element or the target TA insertion site. In this study, we report for the first time, to our knowledge, movement of CREEs, through inversion of the element at its chromosomal location. Analysis of Ion Torrent generated genome sequence data from N. gonorrhoeae strain NCCP11945 passaged for 8 weeks in the laboratory under standard conditions and stress conditions revealed a total of 37 inversions: 24 were exclusively seen in the stressed sample, 7 were seen in the control sample and the remaining 3 were seen in both samples. These inversions have the capability to alter gene expression in N. gonorrhoeae through the previously determined activities of the sequence features of these elements, potentially resulting in reversible phase-variable gene expression.

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2017-02-20
2019-10-15
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