1887

Abstract

In , the reversible expression of surface antigens, i.e. phase variation, results from changes within repeated simple sequence motifs located in coding or promoter regions of the genes involved in their biosynthesis. The mutation rates of these simple sequences, which have a major influence on the generation of phenotypic diversity, can affect the fitness of the population. The aim of the present study was to investigate the involvement of genetic factors involved ( and ) and not yet analysed ( and ) in the regulation of phase variation frequencies of genes associated with a variety of repeat tracts. The frequency of frameshifts occurring in the polycytidine (polyC) tracts associated with , and and in the tetranucleotide (TAAA) repeat tract associated with was determined by colony immunoblotting or using the gene as a reporter. Inactivation of increased the frequency of phase variation of genes presenting homopolymeric tracts of diverse length. Overexpression of enhanced the instability of the homopolymeric tract associated with . Investigation of the locus in a population of genetically distinct strains revealed that 27 % of strains associated with invasive disease contained the gene. In all strains where a Dam function was absent, the gene had been inserted into the locus. Disruption of and in strains representative of each genotype, i.e. / and / , did not modify phase variation frequencies. In contrast to the effects of certain genes on homopolymeric tracts, none of the genetic factors investigated affected the stability of tetranucleotide repeat tracts.

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2004-09-01
2019-11-19
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