Variations in gene organization and DNA uptake signal sequence in the folP region between commensal and pathogenic Neisseria species
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Variations in gene organization and DNA uptake signal sequence in the folP region between commensal and pathogenic Neisseria species

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  • Alternative Title:
    BMC Microbiol
  • Description:

    Horizontal gene transfer is an important source of genetic variation among Neisseria species and has contributed to the spread of resistance to penicillin and sulfonamide drugs in the pathogen Neisseria meningitidis. Sulfonamide resistance in Neisseria meningitidis is mediated by altered chromosomal folP genes. At least some folP alleles conferring resistance have been horizontally acquired from other species, presumably from commensal Neisseriae. In this work, the DNA sequence surrounding folP in commensal Neisseria species was determined and compared to corresponding regions in pathogenic Neisseriae, in order to elucidate the potential for inter-species DNA transfer within this region.


    The upstream region of folP displayed differences in gene order between species, including an insertion of a complete Correia element in Neisseria lactamica and an inversion of a larger genomic segment in Neisseria sicca, Neisseria subflava and Neisseria mucosa. The latter species also had DNA uptake signal sequences (DUS) in this region that were one base different from the DUS in pathogenic Neisseriae. Another interesting finding was evidence of a horizontal transfer event from Neisseria lactamica or Neisseria cinerea that introduced a novel folP allele to the meningococcal population.


    Genetic recombination events immediately upstream of folP and horizontal transfer have resulted in sequence differences in the folP region between the Neisseria species. This variability could be a consequence of the selective pressure on this region exerted by the use of sulfonamide drugs.

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