The vrl locus is preferentially associated with virulent isolates of the ovine footrot pathogen, Dichelobacter nodosus. The complete nucleotide sequence of this 27.1-kb region has now been determined. The data reveal that the locus has a G+C content much higher than the rest of the D. nodosus chromosome and contains 22 open reading frames (ORFs) encoding products including a putative adenine-specific methylase, two potential DEAH ATP-dependent helicases, and two products with sequence similarity to a bacteriophage resistance system. These ORFs are all in the same orientation, and most are either overlapping or separated by only a few nucleotides, suggesting that they comprise an operon and are translationally coupled. Expression vector studies have led to the identification of proteins that correspond to many of these ORFs. These data, in combination with evidence of insertion of vrl into the 3′ end of an ssrA gene, are consistent with the hypothesis that the vrl locus was derived from the insertion of a bacteriophage or plasmid into the D. nodosus genome
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