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J Bacteriol. Jan 1993; 175(2): 487–502.
PMCID: PMC196164

Structures of and allelic diversity and relationships among the major outer membrane protein (ompA) genes of the four chlamydial species.


DNA sequences coding for 81% of the ompA gene from 24 chlamydial strains, representing all chlamydial species, were determined from DNA amplified by polymerase chain reactions. Chlamydial strains of serovars and strains with similar chromosomal restriction fragment length polymorphism had identical ompA DNA sequences. The ompA sequences were segregated into 23 different ompA alleles and aligned with each other, and phylogenetic relationships among them were inferred by neighbor-joining and maximum parsimony analyses. The neighbor-joining method produced a single phylogram which was rooted at the branch between two major clusters. One cluster included all Chlamydia trachomatis ompA alleles (trachoma group). The second cluster was composed of three major groups of ompA alleles: psittacosis group (alleles MN, 6BC, A22/M, B577, LW508, FEPN, and GPIC), pneumonia group (Chlamydia pneumoniae AR388 with the allele KOALA), and polyarthritis group (ruminant and porcine chlamydial alleles LW613, 66P130, L71, and 1710S with propensity for polyarthritis). These groups were distinguished through specific DNA sequence signatures. Maximum parsimony analysis yielded two equally most parsimonious phylograms with topologies similar to the ompA tree of neighbor joining. Two phylograms constructed from chlamydial genomic DNA distances had topologies identical to that of the ompA phylogram with respect to branching of the chlamydial species. Human serovars of C. trachomatis with essentially identical genomes represented a single taxonomic unit, while they were divergent in the ompA tree. Consistent with the ompA phylogeny, the porcine isolate S45, previously considered to be Chlamydia psittaci, was identified as C. trachomatis through biochemical characteristics. These data demonstrate that chlamydial ompA allelic relationships, except for human serovars of C. trachomatis, are cognate with chromosomal phylogenies.

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