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Microbes Infect. 2004 Jul;6(9):821-34.

DNA polymorphism in the omp25/omp31 family of Brucella spp.: identification of a 1.7-kb inversion in Brucella cetaceae and of a 15.1-kb genomic island, absent from Brucella ovis, related to the synthesis of smooth lipopolysaccharide.

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Departamento de Microbiología y Genética, Edificio Departamental, Universidad de Salamanca, Plaza Doctores de la Reina s/n, 37007 Salamanca, Spain.


Five genes homologous to the well-known omp25 and omp31 genes, that code for two major Brucella spp. outer membrane proteins (OMPs), have been detected in the genome of Brucella melitensis 16M and Brucella suis 1330. In this work we have determined the nucleotide sequence of these five genes, named omp31b, omp25b, omp25c, omp25d and omp22, in the six classical Brucella species reference strains and in representative strains of the recently proposed species Brucella cetaceae and Brucella pinnipediae that classify the Brucella strains isolated in the last years from marine mammals. Although these genes are quite conserved in the genus Brucella, several important differences have been found between species (i) omp31b contains a premature stop codon in B. canis and B. ovis truncating the encoded protein; (ii) the 5' end of omp31b is deleted in the three biovars of B. melitensis which probably prevents synthesis of Omp31b in this species; (iii) only B. melitensis, B. suis and B. neotomae would be able to synthesize the Omp25b protein with the characteristics shared by the Omp25/Omp31 group of proteins (characteristic signal sequence and C-terminal phenylalanine); (iv) a DNA inversion of 1747 bp including omp25b was detected in B. cetaceae strains; (v) a DNA deletion of about 15 kb was detected in all the six B. ovis strains tested. This deletion in B. ovis includes, among other genes, omp25b and wboA, a gene that has been shown to be required for the synthesis of the O-polysaccharide chain of the Brucella spp. smooth lipopolysaccharide. Several features of the DNA region absent from B. ovis suggest that this DNA fragment is a genomic island acquired by the Brucella ancestor by horizontal transfer and later deleted from B. ovis. The DNA polymorphism we have found in this work within the genus Brucella might be involved in the differences in pathogenicity and host preference displayed by the Brucella species.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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