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J Clin Microbiol. Sep 1997; 35(9): 2386–2392.
PMCID: PMC229973

Evidence for recombination in the flagellin locus of Campylobacter jejuni: implications for the flagellin gene typing scheme.


The flagellin subunit of the flagellar filament in Campylobacter jejuni is encoded by two highly homologous tandem genes, flaA and flaB. The flaA gene was sequenced in 18 strains of C. jejuni, including isolates from three outbreak groups. Sequences obtained were compared with flaA sequences available in the GenBank database, and all were analyzed for mosaic gene structure by using recently described statistical tests for detecting gene conversion among aligned sets of sequences. Strong evidence was found supporting recombination between flaA genes of different strains (i.e., intergenomic recombination). Intragenomic recombination between the flaA and flaB genes of C. jejuni TGH9011 was also demonstrated. Both mechanisms of recombination may act as a potential means by which pathogenic strains can generate increased antigenic diversity, so allowing them to escape the immunological responses of the host. Furthermore, demonstration of recombination within and between flagellin loci of natural strains suggests that flagellin gene typing (restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of PCR-amplified flagellin genes) cannot be considered a stable method for long-term monitoring of pathogenic Campylobacter populations.

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Selected References

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