Pilin gene variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae: Reassessing the old paradigms

Stuart A Hill, John Keith Davies

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37 Citations (Scopus)


Neisseria gonorrhoeae displays considerable potential for antigenic variation as shown in human experimental studies. Various surface antigens can change either by antigenic variation using RecA-dependent recombination schemes (e.g. PilE antigenic variation) or, alternatively, through phase variation (on/off switching) in a RecA-independent fashion (e.g. Opa and lipooligosaccharide phase variation). PilE antigenic variation has been well documented over the years. However, with the availability of the N. gonorrhoeae FA1090 genome sequence, considerable genetic advances have recently been made regarding the mechanistic considerations of the gene conversion event, leading to an altered PilE protein. This review will compare the various models that have been presented and will highlight potential mechanistic problems that may constrain any genetic model for pilE gene variation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)521 - 530
Number of pages10
JournalFEMS Microbiology Reviews
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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