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Infect Immun. 1992 May; 60(5): 1890–1893.
PMCID: PMC257090

Evidence consistent with horizontal transfer of the gene (emm12) encoding serotype M12 protein between group A and group G pathogenic streptococci.


Human isolates of Lancefield group G streptococci harbor sequences homologous with the structural gene (emm) encoding M protein, a major virulence factor in Streptococcus pyogenes (a group A Streptococcus species). We used DNA-DNA hybridization, restriction endonuclease chromosomal profiling, and multilocus enzyme electrophoresis to examine genetic relationships between group A and group G streptococcal strains expressing homologous serologic type 12 M (M12) protein. All M12 group A strains studied had very similar restriction endonuclease genomic profiles and multilocus enzyme genotypes. In contrast, the restriction enzyme genomic profile and multilocus enzyme genotype of the M12 group G strain CS140 were strikingly different from those characterizing the M12 group A organisms. DNA-DNA hybridization studies revealed, on average, 57% genomic similarity between the M12 group A and group G strains. Taken together, our data demonstrate that a gene encoding M12 protein occurs in two highly divergent chromosomal backgrounds, a result suggesting that an episode of horizontal gene transfer and recombination has occurred between two streptococcal lineages.

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Selected References

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