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Mol Biol Evol. 1994 Mar;11(2):208-19.

Molecular evolution of a multigene family in group A streptococci.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Alabama at Birmingham.


The emm genes are members of a gene family in group A streptococci (GAS) that encode for antiphagocytic cell-surface proteins and/or immunoglobulin-binding proteins. Previously sequenced genes in this family have been named "emm," "fcrA," "enn," "arp," "protH," and "mrp"; herein they will be referred to as the "emm gene family." The genes in the emm family are located in a cluster occupying 3-6 kb between the genes mry and scpA on the chromosome of Streptococcus pyogenes. Most GAS strains contain one to three tandemly arranged copies of emm-family genes in the cluster, but the alleles within the cluster vary among different strains. Phylogenetic analysis of the conserved sequences at the 3' end of these genes differentiates all known members of this family into four evolutionarily distinct emm subfamilies. As a starting point to analyze how the different subfamilies are related evolutionarily, the structure of the emm chromosomal region was mapped in a number of diverse GAS strains by using subfamily-specific primers in the polymerase chain reaction. Nine distinct chromosomal patterns of the genes in the emm gene cluster were found. These nine chromosomal patterns support a model for the evolution of the emm gene family in which gene duplication followed by sequence divergence resulted in the generation of four major-gene subfamilies in this locus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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