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      Recombination in the ompA gene but not the omcB gene of Chlamydia contributes to serovar-specific differences in tissue tropism, immune surveillance, and persistence of the organism.

      Journal of Bacteriology
      Animals, Bacterial Outer Membrane Proteins, genetics, Chlamydia, classification, immunology, pathogenicity, Chlamydia Infections, microbiology, Chlamydia trachomatis, Chlamydophila pneumoniae, Chlamydophila psittaci, Chromosome Breakage, Genes, Bacterial, Genetic Linkage, Humans, Molecular Sequence Data, Phylogeny, Recombination, Genetic, Serotyping, Species Specificity

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          Abstract

          Sequences of the major outer membrane protein (MOMP) gene (ompA) and the outer membrane complex B protein gene (omcB) from Chlamydia trachomatis, Chlamydia pneumoniae, and Chlamydia psittaci were analyzed for evidence of intragenic recombination and for linkage equilibrium. The Sawyer runs test, compatibility matrices, and index of association analyses provided substantial evidence that there has been a history of intragenic recombination at ompA including one instance of interspecies recombination between the C. trachomatis mouse pneumonitis strain and the C. pneumoniae horse N16 strain. Although none of these methods detected intragenic recombination within omcB, differences in divergence reported in earlier studies suggested that there has been intergenic recombination involving omcB, and the analyses presented in this study are consistent with this. For C. trachomatis, index-of-association analyses suggested a higher degree of recombination for C class than for B class strains and a higher degree of recombination in the downstream half of ompA. In concordance with these findings, many significant breakpoints were found in variable segments 3 and 4 of MOMP for the recombinant strains D/B120, G/UW-57, E/Bour, and LGV-98 identified in this study. We provide examples of how genetic diversity generated by repeated recombination in these regions may be associated with evasion of immune surveillance, serovar-specific differences in tissue tropism, and persistence.

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