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J Bacteriol. Nov 1992; 174(21): 6886–6895.
PMCID: PMC207367

Evolutionary genetics of the proline permease gene (putP) and the control region of the proline utilization operon in populations of Salmonella and Escherichia coli.


Virtually complete sequences (1,467 bp) of the proline permease gene (putP) and complete sequences (416 to 422 bp) of the control region of the proline utilization operon were determined for 16 strains of Salmonella, representing all eight subspecies, and 13 strains of Escherichia coli recovered from natural populations. Strains of Salmonella and E. coli differed, on average, at 16.3% of putP nucleotide sites and 17.5% of control region sites; the average difference between strains was much larger for Salmonella strains (4.6% of putP sites and 3.4% of control region sites) than for E. coli (2.4 and 0.9%, respectively). There was no difference in the distribution of polymorphic amino acid positions between the membrane-spanning and loop regions of the permease molecule, and rates of synonymous nucleotide substitution were virtually the same for the two domains. Statistical analysis yielded evidence of three probable cases of intragenic recombination, including the acquisition of a large segment of putP by strains of Salmonella subspecies VII from an unidentified source, the exchange of a 21-bp segment between two strains of E. coli, and the acquisition by one strain of E. coli of a cluster of 14 unique polymorphic control region sites from an unknown donor. An evolutionary tree for the putP and control region sequences was generally concordant with a tree for the gapA gene and a tree based on multilocus enzyme electrophoresis, thus providing evidence that for neither gene nor for enzyme genes in general has recombination occurred at rates sufficiently high or over regions sufficiently large to completely obscure phylogenetic relationships dependent on mutational divergence. It is suggested that the recombination rate varies among genes in relation to functional type, being highest for genes encoding cell surface and other proteins for which there is an adaptive advantage in structural diversity.

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