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Infect Immun. 2002 May;70(5):2351-60.

Genome-based identification of chromosomal regions specific for Salmonella spp.

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  • 1Institut für Klinische Mikrobiologie, Immunologie und Hygiene, Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany.


Acquisition of genomic elements by horizontal gene transfer represents an important mechanism in the evolution of bacterial species. Pathogenicity islands are a subset of horizontally acquired elements present in various pathogens. These elements are frequently located adjacent to tRNA genes. We performed a comparative genome analysis of Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Typhimurium and Escherichia coli and scanned tRNA loci for the presence of species-specific, horizontally acquired genomic elements. A large number of species-specific elements were identified. Here, we describe the characteristics of four large chromosomal insertions at tRNA genes of Salmonella spp. The tRNA-associated elements harbor various genes previously identified as single virulence genes, indicating that these genes have been acquired with large chromosomal insertions. Southern blot analyses confirmed that the tRNA-associated elements are specific to Salmonella and also indicated a heterogeneous distribution within the salmonellae. Systematic scanning for insertions at tRNA genes thus represents a tool for the identification of novel pathogenicity islands.

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