The 2,272,351-base pair genome of Neisseria meningitidis strain MC58 (serogroup B), a causative agent of meningitis and septicemia, contains 2158 predicted coding regions, 1158 (53.7%) of which were assigned a biological role. Three major islands of horizontal DNA transfer were identified; two of these contain genes encoding proteins involved in pathogenicity, and the third island contains coding sequences only for hypothetical proteins. Insights into the commensal and virulence behavior of N. meningitidis can be gleaned from the genome, in which sequences for structural proteins of the pilus are clustered and several coding regions unique to serogroup B capsular polysaccharide synthesis can be identified. Finally, N. meningitidis contains more genes that undergo phase variation than any pathogen studied to date, a mechanism that controls their expression and contributes to the evasion of the host immune system.
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