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Mob Genet Elements. 2011 May;1(1):85-87.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae and humans perform an evolutionary LINE dance.

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1
Department of Microbiology-Immunology; Northwestern University; Feinberg School of Medicine; Chicago, IL USA.

Abstract

Horizontal gene transfer is an important mechanism for generating genetic diversity. As the number of sequenced genomes continues to increase, so do the examples of horizontal genetic exchange between both related and divergent organisms. Here we discuss the recent finding that certain strains of the human pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae have incorporated a small fragment of human DNA sequence into their genomes. The horizontally acquired sequence exhibits 98-100% nucleotide identity to a 685 bp portion of the highly repetitive retrotransposable element L1 and its presence in the gonococcal genome has been confirmed by multiple molecular techniques. The possibility of similar L1 horizontal gene transfer events having occurred in other bacteria based on genomic sequence evidence is explored. Potential mechanisms of how N. gonorrhoeae was able to acquire and maintain this human sequence are also discussed in addition to the evolutionary implications of such an event.

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