Publication Details

Towers, R. J., Fagan, P. K., Talay, S. R., Currie, B. J., Sriprakash, K. S., Walker, M. J. & Chhatwal, G. S. (2003). Evolution of sfbI encoding Streptococcal fibronectin-binding protein I: Horizontal genetic transfer and gene mosaic structure. Journal of Clinical Microbiology, 41 (12), 5398-5406.


Streptococcal fibronectin-binding protein is an important virulence factor involved in colonization and invasion of epithelial cells and tissues by Streptococcus pyogenes. In order to investigate the mechanisms involved in the evolution of sfbI, the sfbI genes from 54 strains were sequenced. Thirty-four distinct alleles were identified. Three principal mechanisms appear to have been involved in the evolution of sfbI. The amino-terminal aromatic amino acid-rich domain is the most variable region and is apparently generated by intergenic recombination of horizontally acquired DNA cassettes, resulting in a genetic mosaic in this region. Two distinct and divergent sequence types that shared only 61 to 70% identity were identified in the central proline-rich region, while variation at the 3′ end of the gene is due to deletion or duplication of defined repeat units. Potential antigenic and functional variabilities in SfbI imply significant selective pressure in vivo with direct implications for the microbial pathogenesis of S. pyogenes.



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