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EXS. 1994;69:479-93.

The origin and evolution of species differences in Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium.

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Department of Biology, University of Rochester, NY 14627.


Since diverging from a common ancestor some 120 million years, Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium have accumulated numerous phenotypic characteristics which have traditionally been used to distinguish these enteric species. While most of the genetic differences between these species are due to the accumulation of point mutations, the majority of the observed variation in phenotypic characters is attributable to segments of the genome confined to only one of the species. We have analyzed the map positions, G+C contents, nucleotide sequences and functions of regions unique to the Salmonella chromosome in an attempt to determine the ancestry of species-specific sequences. Some of the Salmonella-specific regions had uncharacteristically low base compositions and contained open reading frames of atypical codon usage patterns suggesting that portions of the genome were acquired by horizontal transfer from distantly-related bacterial species. The role of these species-specific sequences was assayed by constructing mutant strains harboring deletions in the corresponding regions of the genome. Several functions were ascribed to these unique portions of the Salmonella chromosome, including one encoding proteins involved in virulence and invasion of host epithelial cells.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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