The recombinant plasmid pJIR318 contains a fragment of the Dichelobacter nodosus genome which is associated with virulence. Sequence analysis of the pJIR318 insert has shown that it contains four vap (virulence-associated protein) genes which are homologous to open reading frames found on the Escherichia coli F plasmid and the Neisseria gonorrhoeae cryptic plasmid (M. E. Katz, R. A. Strugnell, and J. I. Rood, Infect. and Immun. 60:4586-4592, 1992). The plasmid pJIR318 hybridizes to three regions of the D. nodosus genome, each of which has now been isolated. Regions 1 and 3 were found to be adjacent in the genome of D. nodosus A198, and the order of the vap genes in vap regions 1 and 2 were shown to be identical. Partial sequence analysis and Southern blot analysis of the vap regions showed that the three regions probably arose by a duplication event(s) followed by insertions and/or deletions. A recombinant plasmid, pJIR749, was isolated from a library of a benign D. nodosus strain, 305. This plasmid contained sequences from both ends of vap region 2. Analysis of pJIR749 showed that the sequences on either side of vap region 2 were separated by 324 bp in the genome of benign strain 305 and that the orientations of the sequences were different. It is clear that a simple insertion or deletion event did not generate the benign and virulent strains studied. A model which describes the evolution of the duplicated vap regions in D. nodosus A198 is presented
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