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J Infect Dis. 2010 Dec 15;202(12):1920-9. doi: 10.1086/657414. Epub 2010 Nov 4.

Characterization of the meiosis-specific recombinase Dmc1 of pneumocystis.

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  • 1Critical Care Medicine Department, National Institutes of Health (NIH) Clinical Center, National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, USA.


The life cycle of Pneumocystis, which causes life-threatening pneumonia in immunosuppressed patients, remains poorly defined. In the present study, we have identified and characterized an orthologue of dmc1, a gene specific for meiotic recombination in yeast, in 3 species of Pneumocystis. dmc1 is a single-copy gene that is transcribed as ∼1.2-kb messenger RNA, which encodes a protein of 336-337 amino acids. Pneumocystis Dmc1 was 61%-70% identical to those from yeast. Confocal microscopy results indicated that the expression of Dmc1 is primarily confined to the cyst form of Pneumocystis. By sequence analysis of 2 single-copy regions of the human Pneumocystis jirovecii genome, we can infer multiple recombination events, which are consistent with meiotic recombination in this primarily haploid organism. Taken together, these studies support the occurrence of a sexual phase in the life cycle of Pneumocystis.

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