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Reiter L.,Laboratory for Microbial Dynamics | Tourasse N.J.,Laboratory for Microbial Dynamics | Tourasse N.J.,University Pierre and Marie Curie | Fouet A.,Institute Pasteur Paris | And 10 more authors.
Journal of Bacteriology | Year: 2011

The Bacillus cereus group of bacteria is a group of closely related species that are of medical and economic relevance, including B. anthracis, B. cereus, and B. thuringiensis. Bacteria from the Bacillus cereus group encode three large, highly conserved genes of unknown function (named crdA, crdB, and crdC) that are composed of 16 to 35 copies of a repeated domain of 132 amino acids at the protein level. Bioinformatic analysis revealed that there is a phylogenetic bias in the genomic distribution of these genes and that strains harboring all three large genes mainly belong to cluster III of the B. cereus group phylogenetic tree. The evolutionary history of the three large genes implicates gain, loss, duplication, internal deletion, and lateral transfer. Furthermore, we show that the transcription of previously identified antisense open reading frames in crdB is simultaneously regulated with its host gene throughout the life cycle in vitro, with the highest expression being at the onset of sporulation. In B. anthracis, different combinations of double- and triple-knockout mutants of the three large genes displayed slower and less efficient sporulation processes than the parental strain. Altogether, the functional studies suggest an involvement of these three large genes in the sporulation process. © 2011, American Society for Microbiology.

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