Nested DNA inversion as a paradigm of programmed gene rearrangement

Joel Dworkin, Martin J. Blaser

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Programmed gene rearrangements are employed by a variety of microorganisms, including viruses, prokaryotes, and simple eukaryotes, to control gene expression. In most instances in which organisms mediate host evasion by large families of homologous gene cassettes, the mechanism of variation is not thought to involve DNA inversion. Here we report that Campylobacter fetus, a pathogenic Gram-negative bacterium, reassorts a single promoter, controlling surface-layer protein expression, and one or more complete ORFs strictly by DNA inversion. Rearrangements were independent of the distance between sites of inversion. These rearrangements permit variation in protein expression from the large surface-layer protein gene family and suggest an expanding paradigm of programmed DNA rearrangements among microorganisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)985-990
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number3
StatePublished - Feb 4 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


  • Campylobacter fetus
  • surface layer proteins


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