1887

Abstract

The molecular diversity of a novel antigen, encoded by the ORF NMB0088 of MC58 (FadL-like protein), was assessed in a panel of 64 diverse meningococcal strains. The panel consisted of strains belonging to different serogroups, serotypes, serosubtypes and MLST sequence types, of different clinical sources, years and countries of isolation. Based on the sequence variability of the protein, the FadL-like protein has been divided into four variant groups in this species. Antigen variants were associated with specific serogroups and MLST clonal complexes. Maximum-likelihood analyses were used to determine the relationships among sequences and to compare the selection pressures acting on the encoded protein. Furthermore, a model of population genetics and molecular evolution was used to detect natural selection in DNA sequences using the non-synonymous : synonymous substitution (  :  ) ratio. The meningococcal sequences were also compared with those of the related surface protein in non-pathogenic commensal species to investigate potential horizontal gene transfer. The gene was subject to only weak positive selection pressure and was less diverse than meningococcal major outer-membrane proteins. The majority of the variability in was due to recombination among existing alleles from the same or related species that resulted in a discrete mosaic structure in the meningococcal population. In general, the population structuring observed based on the FadL-like membrane protein indicates that it is under intermediate immune selection. However, the emergence of a new subvariant within the hyperinvasive lineages demonstrates the phenotypic adaptability of , probably in response to selective pressure.

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2010-12-01
2020-04-04
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