DNA transformation leads to pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae

H. Steven Seifert, Richard S. Ajioka, Christian Marchal, P. Frederick Sparling, Magdalene "Maggie" So

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

125 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Many pathogenic bacteria express pili (fimbriae) on their cell surfaces. These structures mediate binding of bacteria to host tissues, and may also be involved in other aspects of pathogenesis. Neisseria gonorrhoeae pili are mainly composed of a single protein, pilin, whose expression is controlled at chromosomal expression loci (pilE)1 An intact pilin gene and promoter sequences2-5 are only found at pilE. Strain MS 11 contains two expression sites (pilEl and pilE2)1,2, whereas several of its derivatives5 and other clinical isolates4 contain only one. Silent pilin loci (pilS1-pilS7) contain truncated variant pilin genes lacking the promoter and conserved pilin gene sequences3,6. Pilin antigenic variation in N. gonorrhoeae occurs by DNA recombination between one of the silent partial variant gene segments in pilS and an expressed pilin gene in pilE7,8. The recombination reactions are nonreciprocal, and therefore the mechanism has been classified as gene conversion. We report that much of the recombination between pilin loci actually occurs after transformation of living piliated cells by DNA liberated from lysed cells within a population. This constitutes a new molecular mechanism for an antigenic variation system, as well as the first specific function for a DNA transformation system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)392-395
Number of pages4
JournalNature
Volume336
Issue number6197
StatePublished - 1988
Externally publishedYes

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Fimbriae Proteins
Antigenic Variation
Neisseria gonorrhoeae
DNA
Genetic Recombination
Genes
Bacteria
Gene Conversion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Seifert, H. S., Ajioka, R. S., Marchal, C., Sparling, P. F., & So, M. M. (1988). DNA transformation leads to pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Nature, 336(6197), 392-395.

DNA transformation leads to pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae. / Seifert, H. Steven; Ajioka, Richard S.; Marchal, Christian; Sparling, P. Frederick; So, Magdalene "Maggie".

In: Nature, Vol. 336, No. 6197, 1988, p. 392-395.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Seifert, HS, Ajioka, RS, Marchal, C, Sparling, PF & So, MM 1988, 'DNA transformation leads to pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae', Nature, vol. 336, no. 6197, pp. 392-395.
Seifert HS, Ajioka RS, Marchal C, Sparling PF, So MM. DNA transformation leads to pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Nature. 1988;336(6197):392-395.
Seifert, H. Steven ; Ajioka, Richard S. ; Marchal, Christian ; Sparling, P. Frederick ; So, Magdalene "Maggie". / DNA transformation leads to pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae. In: Nature. 1988 ; Vol. 336, No. 6197. pp. 392-395.
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