A multiple site‐specific DNA‐inversion model for the control of Ompi phase and antigenic variation in Dichelobacter nodosus

Eric K. Moses, Robert T. Good, Meri Sinistaj, Stephen J. Billington, Christopher J. Langford, Julian I. Rood

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The molecular cloning and sequence analysis of four structurally variant linked genes (omp1A,B,C,D) that encode the major outer membrane protein of Dichelobacter nodosus strain VCS1001 are described. The isolation of rearranged copies of omp1A and omp1B, and the identification in the 5′ regions of all four genes of short cross‐over‐site sequences that were similar to the Din family of cross‐over‐site sequences, suggested that site‐specific DNA inversion was involved in omp1 rearrangement. Evidence for site‐specific inversion of the 497 bp DNA fragment, which was located between the divergently orientated omp1A and omp1B genes, and which contained the promoter and 5t' coding sequence of omp1, was obtained by polymerase chain reaction‐mediated amplification of inverted forms of these genes. However, to account for all of the omp1 gene copies cloned in this study, a more widespread inversion phenomenon must be involved in the rearrangement of these genes and a model for multiple site‐specific DNA inversions at the omp1 locus is described. In this model the four structurally variant omp1 genes can be assembled from one of four structurally variant C‐terminal coding regions and a conserved N‐terminal coding region and can be expressed from a single promoter. It is postulated that this genetic capability endows D. nodosus with the ability to switch the antigenic specificity of one of its major surface proteins.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-196
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1995

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