Journal of Bacteriology, August, 2012, Vol.194(15-16), p.4208(18)
Although the three Treponema pallidum subspecies (T. pallidum subsp. pallidum, T. pallidum subsp. pertenue, and T. pallidum subsp. endemicum), Treponema paraluiscuniculi, and the unclassified Fribourg-Blanc treponeme cause clinically distinct diseases, these pathogens are genetically and antigenically highly related and are able to cause persistent infection. Recent evidence suggests that the putative surface-exposed variable antigen TprK plays an important role in both treponemal immune evasion and persistence. tprK heterogeneity is generated by nonreciprocal gene conversion between the tprK expression site and donor sites. Although each of the above-mentioned species and subspecies has a functional tprK antigenic variation system, it is still unclear why the level of expression and the rate at which tprK diversifies during infection can differ significantly among isolates. To identify genomic differences that might affect the generation and expression of TprK variants among these pathogens, we performed comparative sequence analysis of the donor sites, as well as the tprK expression sites, among eight T. pallidum subsp. pallidum isolates (Nichols Gen, Nichols Sea, Chicago, Sea81-4, Dal-1, Street14, UW104, and UW126), three T. pallidum subsp. pertenue isolates (Gauthier, CDC2, and Samoa D), one T. pallidum subsp. endemicum isolate (Iraq B), the unclassified Fribourg-Blanc isolate, and the Cuniculi A strain of T. paraluiscuniculi. Synteny and sequence conservation, as well as deletions and insertions, were found in the regions harboring the donor sites. These data suggest that the tprK recombination system is harbored within dynamic genomic regions and that genomic differences might be an important key to explain discrepancies in generation and expression of tprK variants among these Treponema isolates.
Bacterial Genetics -- Research ; Gene Expression -- Research ; Genetic Variation -- Research ; Treponema Pallidum -- Genetic Aspects
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