Characterization of ST-4821 complex, a unique Neisseria meningitidis clone.
Ten outbreaks of a new serogroup C meningococcal disease emerged during 2003-2005 in China. The multilocus sequence typing results indicated that unique sequence type 4821 clone meningococci were responsible for these outbreaks. Herein, we determined the entire genomic DNA sequence of serogroup C isolate 053442, which belongs to ST-4821. Comparison of 053442 gene contents with other meningococcal genomes shows that they have similar characteristics, including thousands of repetitive elements and simple sequence repeats, numerous phase-variable genes, and similar virulence-related factors. However, many strain-specific regions were found in each genome. We also present the results of a genomic comparison of 28 ST-4821 complex isolates that were isolated from different serogroups using comparative genomic hybridization analysis. Genome comparison between the newly emerged hyperinvasive isolates belonging to different serogroups will further our understanding of their respective pathogenetic mechanisms.