The Escherichia coli-Salmonella typhimurium-Salmonella abortus-equi hybrid strain EJ1420 has the two Salmonella flagellin genes fliC (antigenic determinant i) and fljB (determinant e,n,x) at the same loci as in the Salmonella strains and constitutively expresses the fliC gene because of mutations in the genes mediating phase variation. Selection for motility in semisolid medium containing anti-i flagellum serum yielded 11 motile mutants, which had the active fliC(e,n,x) and silent fljB(e,n,x) genes. Genetic analysis and Southern hybridization indicated that they had mutations only in the fliC gene, not in the fljB gene or the control elements for phase variation. Nucleotide sequence analysis of the fliC(e,n,x) genes from four representative mutants showed that the minimum 38% (565 bp) and maximum 68% (1,013 bp) sequences of the fliC(i) gene are replaced with the corresponding sequences of the fljB(e,n,x) gene. One of the conversion endpoints between the two genes lies somewhere in the 204-bp homologous sequence in the 5' constant region, and the other lies in the short homologous sequence of 6, 8, or 38 bp in the 3' constant region. The conversions include the whole central variable region of the fljB gene, resulting in fliC(e,n,x) genes with the same number of nucleotides (1,503 bp) as the fljB gene. We discuss the mechanisms for gene conversion between the two genes and also some intriguing aspects of flagellar antigenic specificities in various Salmonella serovars from the viewpoint of gene conversion.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology