The mechanisms underlying antigenic variation and maintenance of genomic integrity in Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Mycoplasma genitalium

Mohamad S. Hakim*, Luthvia Annisa, Rizka O.A. Jariah, Cornelis Vink*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Mycoplasma genitalium are important causative agents of infections in humans. Like all other mycoplasmas, these species possess genomes that are significantly smaller than that of other prokaryotes. Moreover, both organisms possess an exceptionally compact set of DNA recombination and repair-associated genes. These genes, however, are sufficient to generate antigenic variation by means of homologous recombination between specific repetitive genomic elements. At the same time, these mycoplasmas have likely evolved strategies to maintain the stability and integrity of their ‘minimal’ genomes. Previous studies have indicated that there are considerable differences between mycoplasmas and other bacteria in the composition of their DNA recombination and repair machinery. However, the complete repertoire of activities executed by the putative recombination and repair enzymes encoded by Mycoplasma species is not yet fully understood. In this paper, we review the current knowledge on the proteins that likely form part of the DNA repair and recombination pathways of two of the most clinically relevant Mycoplasma species, M. pneumoniae and M. genitalium. The characterization of these proteins will help to define the minimal enzymatic requirements for creating bacterial genetic diversity (antigenic variation) on the one hand, while maintaining genomic integrity on the other.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)413-429
Number of pages17
JournalArchives of Microbiology
Volume203
Issue number2
Early online date24 Sep 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2021

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