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Mol Microbiol. 1999 Aug;33(3):635-50.

The opcA and (psi)opcB regions in Neisseria: genes, pseudogenes, deletions, insertion elements and DNA islands.

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Max-Planck Institut für molekulare Genetik, Ihnestrasse 73, D-14195 Berlin, Germany.


Previous data have indicated that the opc gene encoding an immunogenic invasin is specific to Neisseria meningitidis (Nm) and is lacking in Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Ng). The data presented here show that Nm and Ng both contain two paralogous opc-like genes, opcA, corresponding to the former opc gene, and (psi)opcB, a pseudogene. The predicted OpcA and OpcB proteins possess transmembrane regions with conserved non-polar faces but differ extensively in four of the five surface-exposed loops. Gonococcal OpcA was expressed weakly under in vitro conditions, and it is unknown whether these bacteria can express this protein at high levels. Analysis of the sequences flanking opcA and (psi)opcB revealed a framework of conserved housekeeping genes interspersed with DNA islands. These regions also contained several pseudogenes, deletions and IS elements, attesting to considerable genome plasticity. Both opcA and (psi)opcB are located on DNA islands that have probably been imported from unrelated bacteria. A third island encodes the dcmD/dcrD R/M genes in Ng versus a small open reading frame in most strains of Nm. Rare strains of Nm were identified in which the R/M island has been imported. DNA islands in Nm and Ng seem to have been acquired by recombination via conserved flanking housekeeping genes rather than by insertion of mobile genetic elements.

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