An alternative DNA structure is necessary for pilin antigenic variation in Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Laty A. Cahoon, H. Steven Seifert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

229 Scopus citations

Abstract

Pathogens can use DNA recombination to promote antigenic variation (Av) of surface structures to avoid immune detection. We identified a cis-acting DNA sequence near the antigenically variable pilin locus of the human pathogen, Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This 16 - base pair guanine (G) - rich sequence was required for pilin Av and formed a guanine quartet (G4) structure in vitro. Individual mutations that disrupted the structure also blocked pilin Av and prevented nicks required for recombination from occurring within the G4 region. A compound that binds and stabilizes G4 structures also inhibited pilin Av and prevented nicks from occurring on the G-rich strand. This site constitutes a recombination initiation sequence/structure that directs gene conversion to a specific chromosomal locus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)764-767
Number of pages4
JournalScience
Volume325
Issue number5941
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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