Distribution, expression, and motif variability of ankyrin domain genes in Wolbachia pipientis

Inaki Iturbe-Ormaetxe, Gaelen Burke, Markus Riegler, Scott Leslie O'Neill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


The endosymbiotic bacterium Wolbachia pipientis infects a wide range of arthropods, in which it induces a variety of reproductive phenotypes, including cytoplasmic incompatibility (0), parthenogenesis, male killing, and reversal of genetic sex determination. The recent sequencing and annotation of the first Wolbachia genome revealed an unusually high number of genes encoding ankyrin domain (ANK) repeats. These ANK genes are likely to be important in mediating the Wolbachia-host interaction. In this work we determined the distribution and expression of the different ANK genes found in the sequenced Wolbachia wMel genome in nine Wolbachia strains that induce different phenotypic effects in their hosts. A comparison of the ANK genes of wMel and the non-CI-inducing wAu Wolbachia strain revealed significant differences between the strains. This was reflected in sequence variability in shared genes that could result in alterations in the encoded proteins, such as motif deletions, amino acid insertions, and in some cases disruptions due to insertion of transposable elements and premature stops. In addition, one wMel ANK gene, which is part of an operon, was absent in the wAu genome. These variations are likely to affect the affinity, function, and cellular location of the predicted proteins encoded by these genes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5136 - 5145
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 2005
Externally publishedYes

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