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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1988 Sep;85(18):6982-6.

Identification and arrangement of the DNA sequence recognized in specific transformation of Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Johns Hopkins University School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, MD 21205.


DNA segments from Neisseria gonorrhoeae, cloned and propagated in Escherichia coli, were tested for the ability to competitively inhibit gonococcal transformation. The nucleotide sequences of active segments were determined and compared; these sequences contained the sequence 5' GCCGTCTGAA 3' in common. Subcloning studies confirmed the identity of this sequence as the gonococcal DNA recognition site. The three instances of the recognition sequence isolated from N. gonorrhoeae chromosomal DNA contain the sequence in the immediate neighborhood of its inverted repeat. Because a single copy of the sequence functions as a recognition site, the inverted duplication is not required for specific binding. The dyad symmetric arrangements of the chromosomal recognition sequences may form stable stem-loop structures that can function as terminators or attenuators of transcription. These inverted repeats are located at the boundaries of long open reading frames. The recognition sequence also constitutes part of two other probable terminators of gonococcal genes. We conclude that the signal for recognition of transforming DNA by gonococci is a frequent component of transcriptional terminator sequences. This regulatory function might account for the origin and maintenance of recognition sequences in the chromosomes of Gram-negative transformable bacteria.

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