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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Apr 30;99(9):6103-7.

Mutator clones of Neisseria meningitidis in epidemic serogroup A disease.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory School of Medicine 1510 Clifton Road NE, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.

Abstract

Serogroup A Neisseria meningitidis has repeatedly caused widespread epidemics of meningitis and septicemia throughout the 20th century. Recently, in a limited collection of strains, epidemic serogroup A isolates were found to have elevated mutation rates that was caused by defects in mismatch repair pathways. To ascertain the role of these mutators in the epidemic spread of this serogroup, the prevalence of hypermutability in a collection of 95 serogroup A N. meningitidis invasive isolates was determined. Overall mutability in Neisseriae can be described by measuring both missense mutation rates as well as phase variation frequencies of "contingency loci." Fifty-seven percent of serogroup A isolates possessed elevated mutability, which could be divided into two classes: intermediate and high level. Eleven of 20 high-level mutators, with phase variation rates >100-fold higher than wild-type isolates, were defective in mismatch repair. Ten of the 34 intermediate mutators possessing >10-fold increases in phase variation rates could be partially complemented by a wild-type mutL allele. A high prevalence of mutators in epidemic isolates indicates that hypermutability may play a major role in the transmission of this pathogen. The added diversity derived from increased phase variation rates may allow fixation of mutator alleles more frequently during epidemic spread.

PMID:
11983903
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC122909
Free PMC Article

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