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Biomed Res Int. 2014;2014:815672. doi: 10.1155/2014/815672. Epub 2014 Aug 10.

A genome-wide identification of genes undergoing recombination and positive selection in Neisseria.

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Beijing Institute of Biotechnology, Beijing 100071, China.


Currently, there is particular interest in the molecular mechanisms of adaptive evolution in bacteria. Neisseria is a genus of gram negative bacteria, and there has recently been considerable focus on its two human pathogenic species N. meningitidis and N. gonorrhoeae. Until now, no genome-wide studies have attempted to scan for the genes related to adaptive evolution. For this reason, we selected 18 Neisseria genomes (14 N. meningitidis, 3 N. gonorrhoeae and 1 commensal N. lactamics) to conduct a comparative genome analysis to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the roles of natural selection and homologous recombination throughout the history of adaptive evolution. Among the 1012 core orthologous genes, we identified 635 genes with recombination signals and 10 genes that showed significant evidence of positive selection. Further functional analyses revealed that no functional bias was found in the recombined genes. Positively selected genes are prone to DNA processing and iron uptake, which are essential for the fundamental life cycle. Overall, the results indicate that both recombination and positive selection play crucial roles in the adaptive evolution of Neisseria genomes. The positively selected genes and the corresponding amino acid sites provide us with valuable targets for further research into the detailed mechanisms of adaptive evolution in Neisseria.

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