Ribosomal operon intergenic sequence region (ISR) heterogeneity inCampylobacter coliandCampylobacter jejuni

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Aims:The intergenic sequence regions (ISR) between the 16S and 23S genes of Campylobacter jejuni and Campylobacter coli are markedly different for each species. However, in the genomic sequence for Camp. coliRM2228, two rRNA operons have an ISR that is characteristic of Camp. coli, and the third operon is characteristic of Camp. jejuni. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of ISR heterogeneity in these organisms.Methods and Results:PCR primers were designed to yield a 327-base pair (bp) product for Camp. coli and 166-bp product for Camp. jejuni. A strain like Camp. coliRM2228 should yield products of both sizes. DNA from a panel of Camp. coli (n = 133) and Camp. jejuni (n = 134) isolates were tested. All of the isolates yielded products of the predicted size for the species. To verify the data for Camp. coliRM2228, each ribosomal operon from the isolate was individually amplified by PCR and tested with the ISR primer pair. Products of both sizes were produced as predicted.Conclusions:The cross-species heterogeneity of the ISR seen in Camp. coliRM2228 is uncommon.Significance and Impact of the Study:The heterogeneity must have been caused by horizontal gene transfer at a frequency lower than predicted from housekeeping gene data. Thus, it can be expected that species identification based on the ISR can be confused in rare isolates.

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