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The porA pseudogene of Neisseria gonorrhoeae– low level of genetic polymorphism and a few, mainly identical, inactivating mutations

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Unemo M, Norlén O, Fredlund H. The porA pseudogene of Neisseria gonorrhoeae– low level of genetic polymorphism and a few, mainly identical, inactivating mutations. APMIS 2005;113:410–9.

N. meningitidis is the only Neisseria species known to express two outer membrane porins, PorA and PorB. However, a porA pseudogene has been identified in N. gonorrhoeae. The present study investigated the prevalence and genetic polymorphism of this porA pseudogene in 87 different N. gonorrhoeae strains. The porA pseudogene was identified in all isolates. The pseudogene comprised 12 (5.5%), of which 10 were located in the promoter spacer, and 11 (1.0%) polymorphic nucleotide sites in the upstream segment containing the promoter region, i.e. the putative -10 and -35 sequences and the promoter spacer in-between, and the hypothetical PorA coding sequence, respectively. A phylogenetic analysis of the upstream segment and the hypothetical coding sequence identified 36 sequence variants, of which 30 were not previously described. All strains comprised at least two identical confirmed inactivating deletions, of which one was located in the promoter region and one in the hypothetical PorA coding sequence. In conclusion, the porA pseudogene and its few inactivating mutations are widespread in the N. gonorrhoeae population and the homology with the N. meningitidis porA gene reflects their common evolutionary origin. The highly conserved N. gonorrhoeae porA pseudogene may reflect an evolutionary neutral molecular clock and may be a suitable genetic target for diagnosis of N. gonorrhoeae.

Keywords: Neisseria gonorrhoeae; genetic polymorphism; inactivation; porA; pseudogene

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1600-0463.2005.apm_206.x

Affiliations: National Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria and

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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