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J Bacteriol. 2004 Nov;186(22):7714-25.

The bcr1 DNA repeat element is specific to the Bacillus cereus group and exhibits mobile element characteristics.

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  • 1Biotechnology Centre of Oslo, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.

Abstract

Bacillus cereus strains ATCC 10987 and ATCC 14579 harbor an approximately 155-bp repeated element, bcr1, which is conserved in B. cereus, B. anthracis, B. thuringiensis, and B. mycoides but not in B. subtilis and B. licheniformis. In this study, we show by Southern blot hybridizations that bcr1 is present in all 54 B. cereus group strains tested but absent in 11 Bacillus strains outside the group, suggesting that bcr1 may be specific and ubiquitous to the B. cereus group. By comparative analysis of the complete genome sequences of B. cereus ATCC 10987, B. cereus ATCC 14579, and B. anthracis Ames, we show that bcr1 is exclusively present in the chromosome but absent from large plasmids carried by these strains and that the numbers of full-length bcr1 repeats for these strains are 79, 54, and 12, respectively. Numerous copies of partial bcr1 elements are also present in the three genomes (91, 128, and 53, respectively). Furthermore, the genomic localization of bcr1 is not conserved between strains with respect to chromosomal position or organization of gene neighbors, as only six full-length bcr1 loci are common to at least two of the three strains. However, the intergenic sequence surrounding a specific bcr1 repeat in one of the three strains is generally strongly conserved in the other two, even in loci where bcr1 is found exclusively in one strain. This finding indicates that bcr1 either has evolved by differential deletion from a very high number of repeats in a common ancestor to the B. cereus group or is moving around the chromosome. The identification of bcr1 repeats interrupting genes in B. cereus ATCC 10987 and ATCC 14579 and the presence of a flanking TTTAT motif in each end show that bcr1 exhibits features characteristic of a mobile element.

PMID:
15516586
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC524882
Free PMC Article

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