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J Bacteriol. 1988 Jul;170(7):3032-9.

Pilin-gene phase variation of Moraxella bovis is caused by an inversion of the pilin genes.

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Department of Epidemiology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor 48109.


Moraxella bovis Epp63 can express either of two different pilin proteins, called alpha and beta. We have previously cloned and sequenced the beta-pilin gene and now report that DNAs isolated from bacteria expressing alpha pilin have hybridization patterns consistently different from those of bacteria expressing beta pilin. The phase variation between alpha- and beta-pilin gene expression appears to be associated with an inversion of about 2 kilobases of DNA, whose endpoints occur within the coding region of the expressed pilin gene. Comparisons of the beta-pilin gene sequence with those of well-studied bacterial inversion systems revealed a stretch of 58% sequence similarity (21 of 36 base pairs) between the left inverted repeat of the Salmonella typhimurium flagellar hin control region and the amino-terminal portion of the beta-pilin gene.

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