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J Biotechnol. 2006 Oct 20;126(1):37-51. Epub 2006 Jun 6.

Comparative and functional genomics of Listeria spp.

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Institute for Medical Microbiology, Justus-Liebig-University, Frankfurter Strasse 107, D-35392 Giessen, Germany.


The genus Listeria comprises a group of non-sporulating, Gram-positive, soil bacteria belonging to the low G+C group of microorganisms. The genus consists of only six species, L. monocytogenes, L. ivanovii, L. seeligeri, L. innocua, L. welshimeri, and L. grayi.L. monocytogenes and L. ivanovii are the only known pathogens of this group. Comparative whole-genome sequencing of representative strains comprising the entire genus is currently being performed and nearing completion. In the genus Listeria, genome reduction has led to the generation of non-pathogenic species from pathogenic progenitor strains. Indeed, many of the regions absent in the non-pathogenic species represent commonly deleted genes. Speciation and diversity of strains has been achieved by horizontal gene transfer of DNA encoding novel genes probably required for niche specific survival. The sequencing of several listerial genomes has also been accompanied by studies using global strategies involving whole-genome transcriptional profiling and proteomics to examine the adaptative changes of L. monocytogenes to growth in different environments and to catalogue the genes mediating these responses. We review this data and present information on the expression profile of L. monocytogenes EGD-e inside the vacuolar and the cytosolic environments of the host cell using whole-genome microarray analysis. Of the 484 genes regulated during intracellular growth 41 genes are species-specific, being absent from the genome of the non-pathogenic L. innocua CLIP 11262 strain. There were 25 genes that are strain-specific i.e. absent from the genome of the L. monocytogenes F2365 serotype 4b strain suggesting heterogeneity in the gene pool required for intracellular survival of L. monocytogenes in host cells.

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