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J Bacteriol. 2003 Dec;185(23):6990-4.

Slipped-strand mispairing can function as a phase variation mechanism in Escherichia coli.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104, USA.


Slipped-strand mispairing (SSM) has not been identified as a mechanism of phase variation in Escherichia coli. Using a reporter gene, we show that sequences that cause phase variation by SSM in Haemophilus influenzae also lead to phase variation when introduced onto the chromosome of E. coli, and the frequencies of switching are in the biologically relevant range. Thus, the absence of SSM-mediated phase variation in E. coli does not appear to be due to a mechanistic constraint.

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