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Infect Immun. Feb 1994; 62(2): 606–614.
PMCID: PMC186147

Excision of large DNA regions termed pathogenicity islands from tRNA-specific loci in the chromosome of an Escherichia coli wild-type pathogen.


Uropathogenic Escherichia coli 536 (O6:K15:H31) carries two unstable DNA regions, which were shown to be responsible for virulence. These regions, on which the genes for hemolysin production (hly) and P-related fimbriae (prf) are located, are termed pathogenicity islands (PAI) I and II, and were mapped to positions 82 and 97, respectively, on the E. coli K-12 linkage map. Sequence analysis of the PAI region junction sites revealed sequences of the leuX and selC loci specific for leucine and selenocysteine tRNAs. The tRNA loci function as the targets for excision events. Northern (RNA) blot analysis revealed that the sites of excision are transcriptionally active in the wild-type strain and that no tRNA-specific transcripts were found in the deletion mutant. The analysis of deletion mutants revealed that the excision of these regions is specific and involves direct repeats of 16 and 18 nucleotides, respectively, on both sides of the deletions. By using DNA long-range mapping techniques, the size of PAI I, located at position 82, was calculated to be 70 kb, while PAI II, mapped at position 97, comprises 190 kb. The excision events described here reflect the dynamics of the E. coli chromosome.

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