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Mol Genet Genomics. 2002 Feb;266(6):962-72. Epub 2001 Dec 11.

Recombinational error and deletion formation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae: a role for RecJ in the production of pilE (L) deletions.

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Laboratory of Biological Sciences, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, 60115, USA.


Genetic linkage within Neisseria gonorrhoeae populations is in equilibrium, yet the physical linkage map indicates a relatively stable chromosome structure, despite an apparently vast potential for mispairing between repeated sequences (e.g. between the multiple pil or opa alleles, or through mispairing of any of the numerous small repeated sequences that are liberally scattered throughout the chromosome). Therefore, the stability of the physical linkage map suggests that aberrant recombination between repeated sequences is a rare event. This study was undertaken to explore some of the parameters that may govern deletion events between short direct oligonucleotide repeats, using a chromosomal locus that appears to be especially prone to deletions (the pilin expression locus; pilE). In this report, we demonstrate that deletion formation at pilE occurs primarily through recombinational error following a pilE/pilS interaction; illegitimate (i.e. RecA-independent) events can occur, but they are infrequent. In contrast, when genetically engineered opa deletion substrates were constructed and placed in the chromosome, deletions at the opa loci were infrequent even under rec(+) conditions. A model is presented in which the gonococcal RecA and RecJ proteins promote pilE deletions through a recombination event that is templated or stabilised by a pilE/pilS interaction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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