The genome sequence of the food-borne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni reveals hypervariable sequences.
Parkhill J., Wren B.W., Mungall K.L., Ketley J.M., Churcher C.M., Basham D., Chillingworth T., Davies R.M., Feltwell T., Holroyd S., Jagels K., Karlyshev A.V., Moule S., Pallen M.J., Penn C.W., Quail M.A., Rajandream M.A., Rutherford K.M., van Vliet A.H.M., Whitehead S., Barrell B.G.
Campylobacter jejuni, from the delta-epsilon group of proteobacteria, is a microaerophilic, Gram-negative, flagellate, spiral bacterium-properties it shares with the related gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori. It is the leading cause of bacterial food-borne diarrhoeal disease throughout the world. In addition, infection with C. jejuni is the most frequent antecedent to a form of neuromuscular paralysis known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. Here we report the genome sequence of C. jejuni NCTC11168. C. jejuni has a circular chromosome of 1,641,481 base pairs (30.6% G+C) which is predicted to encode 1,654 proteins and 54 stable RNA species. The genome is unusual in that there are virtually no insertion sequences or phage-associated sequences and very few repeat sequences. One of the most striking findings in the genome was the presence of hypervariable sequences. These short homopolymeric runs of nucleotides were commonly found in genes encoding the biosynthesis or modification of surface structures, or in closely linked genes of unknown function. The apparently high rate of variation of these homopolymeric tracts may be important in the survival strategy of C. jejuni.