Molecular biology of Mycoplasma

Gunna Christiansen, Lise Torp Jensen, Thomas Boesen, Jeppe M. G. Emmersen, Søren Ladefoged, Li-Karine Schiøtz, Svend Birkelund

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Mycoplasmas are the smallest free living microorganisms with the smallest genome. The G+C content is in general low (25-33%) and the coding capacity is about 600 proteins. Mycoplasma species are phylogenetically related, they use the genetic codon UGA for tryptophan, and show rapid evolution, with a high rate of divergence. The genomes of Mycoplasma genitalium and Mycoplasma pneumoniae have been fully sequenced. Striking features of the M. genitalium sequencing project are the presence of a high number of membrane proteins with no resemblance to previously sequenced genes and the presence of repeated fragments of the gene encoding the tip-localized 140 kDa adhesin (MgPa). Many Mycoplasma species display a high frequency of antigenic variation, both as phase and size variation of individual antigens. Mycoplasma hominis isolates are known to be antigenic heterogeneous, as reflected in the reactivity with monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). The genetics of the antigenic variation has been studied for three different surface exposed antigens: P120, Lmp, and P50/Vaa. The gene encoding P120 had a hyper-variable region in the N-terminal region. In addition, a second gene with homology to p120 was identified. The gene encoding Lmp, a 135 kDa protein is repeated and both genes are translated and both contain internal repeated sequences. Deletion mutants in the lmp gene were obtained by cultivation of M. hominis PG21 with MAb 552 specific for the repeated part of Lmp. One of the lmp genes had deletions of from four to eight repeats. The other gene was left unaltered. The genes encoding P50/Vaa show a different form of variability where domains of the genes seem to be exchangeable. The genomic maps of five M. hominis strains showed that even though the size of the genomes varied the position of the different genes were in general conserved.
Original languageEnglish
JournalWien Klin Wochenschr
Pages (from-to)557-561
Number of pages5
Publication statusPublished - 1997


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