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FEBS Lett. 2001 Apr 27;495(3):178-83.

Evolution and function of the neisserial dam-replacing gene.

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Dipartimento di Biologia e Patologia Cellulare e Moleculare L Califano, Università di Napoli Federico II, Naples, Italy.


Phase variation through slippage-like mechanisms involving homopolymeric tracts depends in part on the absence of Dam-methylase in several pathogenic isolates of Neisseria meningitidis. In Dam-defective strains drg (dam-replacing gene), flanked by pseudo-transposable small repeated elements (SREs), replaced dam. We demonstrate that drg encodes a restriction endonuclease (NmeBII) that cleaves 5'-GmeATC-3'. drg is also present in 50% of Neisseria lactamica strains, but in most of them it is inactive because of the absence of an SRE-providing promoter. This is associated with the presence of GATmeC, suggesting an alternative restriction-modification system (RM) specific for 5'-GATC-3', similar to Sau3AI-RM of Staphylococcus aureus 3A, Lactococcus lactis KR2 and Listeria monocytogenes.

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