1887

Abstract

The genetic variation in the dTDP--rhamnose pathway genes (, , and ) in was investigated. The genes are part of the O antigen gene cluster and the aim was to study lateral gene transfer of O antigen gene clusters. The genes of an O6 strain were cloned using an K-12 strain designed for selecting cloned genes. Thirty-three strains carrying the known rhamnose-containing O antigens were probed with O6-based gene probes, and 19 were positive with from one to all four of the gene probes. Nine gene sets from this group were sequenced and found to be in the order , at the 5′ end of the gene clusters. A gradient in the level of variation was observed, with highly similar sequences at the 5′ end gene, but very divergent and strain-specific sequences at the 3′ end of the gene set. The change in level of similarity varied in position, but was always abrupt and coincided with a change in GC content, indicating that the 5′ and 3′ parts are of different origin, and that recombination within genes has occurred. The gene sets of two of the strains that did not hybridize with any O6 gene probes were also cloned and sequenced. Both gene sets were in the middle of the O antigen gene cluster and were very divergent from each other and all other gene sets. This supports the hypothesis that presence of genes at the end of the O antigen gene cluster facilitates lateral gene transfer of -containing O antigen gene clusters in . The sequence relationships make it possible to identify sites of recombination and to distinguish DNA that has long been in and DNA that probably came into the species with the O antigen gene cluster.

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2003-09-01
2019-10-20
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