Identification of a region of genetic variability among Bacillus anthracis strains and related species.
The identification of a region of sequence variability among individual isolates of Bacillus anthracis as well as the two closely related species, Bacillus cereus and Bacillus mycoides, has made a sequence-based approach for the rapid differentiation among members of this group possible. We have identified this region of sequence divergence by comparison of arbitrarily primed (AP)-PCR "fingerprints" generated by an M13 bacteriophage-derived primer and sequencing the respective forms of the only polymorphic fragment observed. The 1,480-bp fragment derived from genomic DNA of the Sterne strain of B. anthracis contained four consecutive repeats of CAATATCAACAA. The same fragment from the Vollum strain was identical except that two of these repeats were deleted. The Ames strain of B. anthracis differed from the Sterne strain by a single-nucleotide deletion. More than 150 nucleotide differences separated B. cereus and B. mycoides from B. anthracis in pairwise comparisons. The nucleotide sequence of the variable fragment from each species contained one complete open reading frame (ORF) (designated vrrA, for variable region with repetitive sequence), encoding a potential 30-kDa protein located between the carboxy terminus of an upstream ORF (designated orf1) and the amino terminus of a downstream ORF (designated lytB). The sequence variation was primarily in vrrA, which was glutamine- and proline-rich (30% of total) and contained repetitive regions. A large proportion of the nucleotide substitutions between species were synonymous. vrrA has 35% identity with the microfilarial sheath protein shp2 of the parasitic worm Litomosoides carinii.
Andersen, GL; Simchock, JM; Wilson, KH
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