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J Mol Microbiol Biotechnol. 2000 Oct;2(4):455-62.

Technological advances in the molecular biology of Leptospira.

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Bacterial Diseases of Livestock, National Animal Disease Center, Agricultural Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, Ames, Iowa 50010, USA.


Pathogenic members of the genus Leptospira have been refractory to genetic study due to lack of known mechanisms of genetic exchange. To bypass this limitation, several techniques have been useful for Leptospira gene discovery, including heterologous complementation of Escherichia coli mutants, screening of DNA libraries with probes, and random sequence analysis. Construction of combined physical and genetic maps revealed the presence of two circular chromosomal replicons. The organization of the L. interrogans genome is quite variable, with genetically similar strains differentiated by many rearrangements. These rearrangements likely occur through recombination between repetitive DNA elements found scattered throughout the genome. Analysis of intervening sequences and genes encoding LPS biosynthetic enzymes provide evidence of lateral transfer of DNA between Leptospira spp. We have also gained insight into the biology of these bacteria by analyzing genes encoding LPS and outer membrane proteins (OMPs). Some of these OMPs are differentially expressed. Characterization of mechanisms governing the expression of the OMP genes should provide insight into host-parasite interactions. Furthermore, recent advances in heterologous expression of leptospiral OMP genes are opening new avenues of vaccine development.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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