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1.  Genomic repeats, genome plasticity and the dynamics of Mycoplasma evolution 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(9):2031-2042.
Mycoplasmas evolved by a drastic reduction in genome size, but their genomes contain numerous repeated sequences with important roles in their evolution. We have established a bioinformatic strategy to detect the major recombination hot-spots in the genomes of Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Mycoplasma genitalium, Ureaplasma urealyticum and Mycoplasma pulmonis. This allowed the identification of large numbers of potentially variable regions, as well as a comparison of the relative recombination potentials of different genomic regions. Different trends are perceptible among mycoplasmas, probably due to different functional and structural constraints. The largest potential for illegitimate recombination in M.pulmonis is found at the vsa locus and its comparison in two different strains reveals numerous changes since divergence. On the other hand, the main M.pneumoniae and M.genitalium adhesins rely on large distant repeats and, hence, homologous recombination for variation. However, the relation between the existence of repeats and antigenic variation is not necessarily straightforward, since repeats of P1 adhesin were found to be anti-correlated with epitopes recognized by patient antibodies. These different strategies have important consequences for the structures of genomes, since large distant repeats correlate well with the major chromosomal rearrangements. Probably to avoid such events, mycoplasmas strongly avoid inverse repeats, in comparison to co-oriented repeats.
PMCID: PMC113839  PMID: 11972343
2.  MolliGen, a database dedicated to the comparative genomics of Mollicutes 
Nucleic Acids Research  2004;32(Database issue):D307-D310.
Bacteria belonging to the class Mollicutes were among the first ones to be selected for complete genome sequencing because of the minimal size of their genomes and their pathogenicity for humans and a broad range of animals and plants. At this time six genome sequences have been publicly released (Mycoplasma genitalium, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, Ureaplasma urealyticum-parvum, Mycoplasma pulmonis, Mycoplasma penetrans and Mycoplasma gallisepticum) and as the number of available mollicute genomes increases, comparative genomics analysis within this model group of organisms becomes more and more instructive. However, such an analysis is difficult to carry out without a suitable platform gathering not only the original annotations but also relevant information available in public databases or obtained by applying common bioinformatics methods. With the aim of solving these difficulties, we have developed a web-accessible database named MolliGen ( After selecting a set of genomes the user can launch various types of search based on annotation, position on the chromosomes or sequence similarity. In addition, relationships of putative orthology have been precomputed to allow differential genome queries. The results are presented in table format with multiple links to public databases and to bioinformatic analyses such as multiple alignments or BLAST search. Specific tools were also developed for the graphical visualization of the results, including a multi- genome browser for displaying dynamic pictures with clickable objects and for viewing relationships of precomputed similarity. MolliGen is designed to integrate all the complete genomes of mollicutes as they become available.
PMCID: PMC308848  PMID: 14681420
3.  The Mycoplasma pneumoniae MPN490 and Mycoplasma genitalium MG339 Genes Encode RecA Homologs That Promote Homologous DNA Strand Exchange▿  
Infection and Immunity  2009;77(11):4905-4911.
The P1, P40, and P90 proteins of Mycoplasma pneumoniae and the MgPa and P110 proteins of Mycoplasma genitalium are immunogenic adhesion proteins that display sequence variation. Consequently, these proteins are thought to play eminent roles in immune evasive strategies. For each of the five proteins, a similar underlying molecular mechanism for sequence variation was hypothesized, i.e., modification of the DNA sequences of their respective genes. This modification is thought to result from homologous recombination of parts of these genes with repeat elements (RepMp and MgPar elements in M. pneumoniae and M. genitalium, respectively) that are dispersed throughout the bacterial genome. Proteins that are potentially involved in homologous DNA recombination have been suggested to be implicated in recombination between these repeat elements and thereby in antigenic variation. To investigate this notion, we set out to study the function of the RecA homologs that are encoded by the M. pneumoniae MPN490 and M. genitalium MG339 genes. Both proteins, which are 79% identical on the amino acid level, were found to promote recombination between homologous DNA substrates in an ATP-dependent fashion. The recombinational activities of both proteins were Mg2+ and pH dependent and were strongly supported by the presence of single-stranded DNA binding protein, either from M. pneumoniae or from Escherichia coli. We conclude that the MPN490- and MG339-encoded proteins are RecA homologs that have the capacity to recombine homologous DNA substrates. Thus, they may play a central role in recombination between repetitive elements in both M. pneumoniae and M. genitalium.
PMCID: PMC2772507  PMID: 19737894
4.  Proteomics of Mycoplasma genitalium: identification and characterization of unannotated and atypical proteins in a small model genome 
Nucleic Acids Research  2000;28(16):3075-3082.
We present the results of a comprehensive analysis of the proteome of Mycoplasma genitalium (MG), the smallest autonomously replicating organism that has been completely sequenced. Our aim was to identify and characterize all soluble proteins in MG that are structurally and functionally uncharacterized. We were particularly interested in identifying proteins that differed significantly from typical globular proteins, for example, proteins which are unstructured in the absence of a ‘partner’ molecule or those that exhibit unusual thermodynamic properties. This work is complementary to other structural genomics projects whose primary aim is to determine the three-dimensional structures of proteins with unknown folds. We have identified all the full-length open reading frames (ORFs) in MG that have no homologs of known structure and are of unknown function. Twenty-five of the total 483 ORFs fall into this category and we have expressed, purified and characterized 11 of them. We have used circular dichroism (CD) to rapidly investigate their biophysical properties. Our studies reveal that these proteins have a wide range of structures varying from highly helical to partially structured to unfolded or random coil. They also display a variety of thermodynamic properties ranging from cooperative unfolding to no detectable unfolding upon thermal denaturation. Several of these proteins are highly conserved from mycoplasma to man. Further information about target selection and CD results is available at
PMCID: PMC108442  PMID: 10931922
5.  Structure-based functional inference of hypothetical proteins from Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae 
Journal of Molecular Modeling  2011;18(5):1917-1925.
Enzootic pneumonia caused by Mycoplasma hyopneumoniae is a major constraint to efficient pork production throughout the world. This pathogen has a small genome with 716 coding sequences, of which 418 are homologous to proteins with known functions. However, almost 42% of the 716 coding sequences are annotated as hypothetical proteins. Alternative methodologies such as threading and comparative modeling can be used to predict structures and functions of such hypothetical proteins. Often, these alternative methods can answer questions about the properties of a model system faster than experiments. In this study, we predicted the structures of seven proteins annotated as hypothetical in M. hyopneumoniae, using the structure-based approaches mentioned above. Three proteins were predicted to be involved in metabolic processes, two proteins in transcription and two proteins where no function could be assigned. However, the modeled structures of the last two proteins suggested experimental designs to identify their functions. Our findings are important in diminishing the gap between the lack of annotation of important metabolic pathways and the great number of hypothetical proteins in the M. hyopneumoniae genome.
PMCID: PMC3340535  PMID: 21870198
Comparative modeling; Known function; Modeller; Mollicutes; Threading; Chemistry; Health Informatics; Life Sciences, general; Computer Appl. in Life Sciences; Molecular Medicine; Biomedicine general; Computer Applications in Chemistry
6.  DNA and protein sequence homologies between the adhesins of Mycoplasma genitalium and Mycoplasma pneumoniae. 
Infection and Immunity  1989;57(4):1059-1065.
Mycoplasma genitalium and Mycoplasma pneumoniae are morphologically and serologically related pathogens that colonize the human host. Their successful parasitism appears to be dependent on the product, an adhesin protein, of a gene that is carried by each of these mycoplasmas. Here we describe the cloning and determine the sequence of the structural gene for the putative adhesin of M. genitalium and compare its sequence to the counterpart P1 gene of M. pneumoniae. Regions of homology that were consistent with the observed serological cross-reactivity between these adhesins were detected at both DNA and protein levels. However, the degree of homology between these two genes and their products was much higher than anticipated. Interestingly, the A + T content of the M. genitalium adhesin gene was calculated as 60.1%, which is substantially higher tham that of the P1 gene (46.5%). Comparisons of codon usage between the two organisms revealed that M. genitalium preferentially used A- and T-rich codons. A total of 65% of positions 3 and 56% of positions 1 in M. genitalium codons were either A or T, whereas M. pneumoniae utilized A or T for positions 3 and 1 at a frequency of 40 and 47%, respectively. The biased choice of the A- and T-rich codons in M. genitalium could also account for the preferential use of A- and T-rich codons in conservative amino acid substitutions found in the M. genitalium adhesin. These facts suggest that M. genitalium might have evolved independently of other human mycoplasma species, including M. pneumoniae.
PMCID: PMC313229  PMID: 2925238
7.  Structure-Function Features of a Mycoplasma Glycolipid Synthase Derived from Structural Data Integration, Molecular Simulations, and Mutational Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e81990.
Glycoglycerolipids are structural components of mycoplasma membranes with a fundamental role in membrane properties and stability. Their biosynthesis is mediated by glycosyltransferases (GT) that catalyze the transfer of glycosyl units from a sugar nucleotide donor to diacylglycerol. The essential function of glycolipid synthases in mycoplasma viability, and the absence of glycoglycerolipids in animal host cells make these GT enzymes a target for drug discovery by designing specific inhibitors. However, rational drug design has been hampered by the lack of structural information for any mycoplasma GT. Most of the annotated GTs in pathogenic mycoplasmas belong to family GT2. We had previously shown that MG517 in Mycoplasma genitalium is a GT-A family GT2 membrane-associated glycolipid synthase. We present here a series of structural models of MG517 obtained by homology modeling following a multiple-template approach. The models have been validated by mutational analysis and refined by long scale molecular dynamics simulations. Based on the models, key structure-function relationships have been identified: The N-terminal GT domain has a GT-A topology that includes a non-conserved variable region involved in acceptor substrate binding. Glu193 is proposed as the catalytic base in the GT mechanism, and Asp40, Tyr126, Tyr169, Ile170 and Tyr218 define the substrates binding site. Mutation Y169F increases the enzyme activity and significantly alters the processivity (or sequential transferase activity) of the enzyme. This is the first structural model of a GT-A glycoglycerolipid synthase and provides preliminary insights into structure and function relationships in this family of enzymes.
PMCID: PMC3849446  PMID: 24312618
8.  Transcriptional Heat Shock Response in the Smallest Known Self-Replicating Cell, Mycoplasma genitalium 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(8):2845-2855.
Mycoplasma genitalium is a human bacterial pathogen linked to urethritis and other sexually transmitted diseases as well as respiratory and joint pathologies. Though its complete genome sequence is available, little is understood about the regulation of gene expression in this smallest known, self-replicating cell, as its genome lacks orthologues for most of the conventional bacterial regulators. Still, the transcriptional repressor HrcA (heat regulation at CIRCE [controlling inverted repeat of chaperone expression]) is predicted in the M. genitalium genome as well as three copies of its corresponding regulatory sequence CIRCE. We investigated the transcriptional response of M. genitalium to elevated temperatures and detected the differential induction of four hsp genes. Three of the up-regulated genes, which encode DnaK, ClpB, and Lon, possess CIRCE within their promoter regions, suggesting that the HrcA-CIRCE regulatory mechanism is functional. Additionally, one of three DnaJ-encoding genes was up-regulated, even though no known regulatory sequences were found in the promoter region. Transcript levels returned to control values after 1 h of incubation at 37°C, reinforcing the transient nature of the heat shock transcriptional response. Interestingly, neither of the groESL operon genes, which encode the GroEL chaperone and its cochaperone GroES, responded to heat shock. These data suggest that M. genitalium selectively regulates a limited number of genes in response to heat shock.
PMCID: PMC1447023  PMID: 16585746
9.  Draft Genome Sequences of Four Axenic Mycoplasma genitalium Strains Isolated from Denmark, Japan, and Australia 
Journal of Bacteriology  2012;194(21):6010-6011.
The DNA genome of Mycoplasma genitalium currently represents the smallest of all known human bacterial pathogens. Despite their clinical importance in sexually transmitted infection and relevance as model bacterial pathogens, genomic diversity among M. genitalium strains worldwide is unknown. Herein we present the complete draft genome sequences of four geographically diverse strains of M. genitalium.
PMCID: PMC3486117  PMID: 23045512
10.  Functional Characterization of the RuvB Homologs from Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Mycoplasma genitalium▿ 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(23):6425-6435.
Homologous recombination between repeated DNA elements in the genomes of Mycoplasma species has been hypothesized to be a crucial causal factor in sequence variation of antigenic proteins at the bacterial surface. To investigate this notion, studies were initiated to identify and characterize the proteins that form part of the homologous DNA recombination machinery in Mycoplasma pneumoniae as well as Mycoplasma genitalium. Among the most likely participants of this machinery are homologs of the Holliday junction migration motor protein RuvB. In both M. pneumoniae and M. genitalium, genes have been identified that have the capacity to encode RuvB homologs (MPN536 and MG359, respectively). Here, the characteristics of the MPN536- and MG359-encoded proteins (the RuvB proteins from M. pneumoniae strain FH [RuvBFH] and M. genitalium [RuvBMge], respectively) are described. Both RuvBFH and RuvBMge were found to have ATPase activity and to bind DNA. In addition, both proteins displayed divalent cation- and ATP-dependent DNA helicase activity on partially double-stranded DNA substrates. The helicase activity of RuvBMge, however, was significantly lower than that of RuvBFH. Interestingly, we found RuvBFH to be expressed exclusively by subtype 2 strains of M. pneumoniae. In strains belonging to the other major subtype (subtype 1), a version of the protein is expressed (the RuvB protein from M. pneumoniae strain M129 [RuvBM129]) that differs from RuvBFH in a single amino acid residue (at position 140). In contrast to RuvBFH, RuvBM129 displayed only marginal levels of DNA-unwinding activity. These results demonstrate that M. pneumoniae strains (as well as closely related Mycoplasma spp.) can differ significantly in the function of components of their DNA recombination and repair machinery.
PMCID: PMC3232873  PMID: 21949077
11.  Transcriptional response of Mycoplasma genitalium to osmotic stress 
Microbiology  2011;157(Pt 2):548-556.
Mycoplasma genitalium is the causative agent of non-gonococcal, chlamydia-negative urethritis in men and has been linked to reproductive tract disease syndromes in women. As with other mycoplasmas, M. genitalium lacks many regulatory genes because of its streamlined genome and total dependence on a parasitic existence. Therefore, it is important to understand how gene regulation occurs in M. genitalium, particularly in response to environmental signals likely to be encountered in vivo. In this study, we developed an oligonucleotide-based microarray to investigate transcriptional changes in M. genitalium following osmotic shock. Using a physiologically relevant osmolarity condition (0.3 M sodium chloride), we identified 39 upregulated and 72 downregulated genes. Of the upregulated genes, 21 were of unknown function and 15 encoded membrane-associated proteins. The majority of downregulated genes encoded enzymes involved in energy metabolism and components of the protein translation process. These data provide insights into the in vivo response of M. genitalium to hyperosmolarity conditions and identify candidate genes that may contribute to mycoplasma survival in the urogenital tract.
PMCID: PMC3090130  PMID: 21051489
12.  A Genome-Scale Metabolic Reconstruction of Mycoplasma genitalium, iPS189 
PLoS Computational Biology  2009;5(2):e1000285.
With a genome size of ∼580 kb and approximately 480 protein coding regions, Mycoplasma genitalium is one of the smallest known self-replicating organisms and, additionally, has extremely fastidious nutrient requirements. The reduced genomic content of M. genitalium has led researchers to suggest that the molecular assembly contained in this organism may be a close approximation to the minimal set of genes required for bacterial growth. Here, we introduce a systematic approach for the construction and curation of a genome-scale in silico metabolic model for M. genitalium. Key challenges included estimation of biomass composition, handling of enzymes with broad specificities, and the lack of a defined medium. Computational tools were subsequently employed to identify and resolve connectivity gaps in the model as well as growth prediction inconsistencies with gene essentiality experimental data. The curated model, M. genitalium iPS189 (262 reactions, 274 metabolites), is 87% accurate in recapitulating in vivo gene essentiality results for M. genitalium. Approaches and tools described herein provide a roadmap for the automated construction of in silico metabolic models of other organisms.
Author Summary
There is growing interest in elucidating the minimal number of genes needed for life. This challenge is important not just for fundamental but also practical considerations arising from the need to design microorganisms exquisitely tuned for particular applications. The genome of the pathogen Mycoplasma genitalium is believed to be a close approximation to the minimal set of genes required for bacterial growth. In this paper, we constructed a genome-scale metabolic model of M. genitalium that mathematically describes a unified characterization of its biochemical capabilities. The model accounts for 189 of the 482 genes listed in the latest genome annotation. We used computational tools during the process to bridge network gaps in the model and restore consistency with experimental data that determined which gene deletions led to cell death (i.e., are essential). We achieved 87% correct model predictions for essential genes and 89% for non-essential genes. We subsequently used the metabolic model to determine components that must be part of the growth medium. The approaches and tools described here provide a roadmap for the automated metabolic reconstruction of other organisms. This task is becoming increasingly critical as genome sequencing for new organisms is proceeding at an ever-accelerating pace.
PMCID: PMC2633051  PMID: 19214212
13.  The Mycoplasma genitalium MG_454 Gene Product Resists Killing by Organic Hydroperoxides▿ † 
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(21):6675-6682.
Mycoplasma genitalium is the smallest self-replicating organism and a successful human pathogen associated with a range of genitourinary maladies. As a consequence of its restricted genome size, genes that are highly conserved in other bacteria are absent in M. genitalium. Significantly, genes that encode antioxidants like superoxide dismutase and catalase-peroxidase are lacking. Nevertheless, comparative genomics has revealed that MG_454 of M. genitalium encodes a protein with putative function as an organic hydroperoxide reductase (Ohr). In this study, we found that an M. genitalium transposon mutant that lacks expression of MG_454 was sensitive to killing by t-butyl hydroperoxide and cumene hydroperoxide. To understand whether this sensitivity to hydroperoxides was linked to MG_454, we cloned this gene behind an arabinose-inducible PBAD promoter in plasmid pHERD20T and transformed this construct (pHERDMG454) into a Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain having deletion in its ohr gene (ohr mutant) and showing sensitivity to organic hydroperoxides. The P. aeruginosa ohr mutant harboring pHERDMG454, when induced with arabinose, was able to reverse its sensitivity to organic hydroperoxides, thus supporting the notion that the product of MG_454 resists organic hydroperoxides in M. genitalium. Surprisingly, real-time reverse transcription-PCR showed that expression of MG_454 in M. genitalium was not elevated in response to oxidative stress but was elevated in response to physical stresses, like salt (NaCl) and heat. Although failure of MG_454 to respond to oxidative stress in M. genitalium implies the absence of a known oxidative stress response regulator in the genome of M. genitalium, elevated expression of MG_454 due to physical stress suggests its control by an unidentified regulator.
PMCID: PMC2795314  PMID: 19717589
14.  Insights into Mycoplasma genitalium Metabolism Revealed by the Structure of MG289, an Extracytoplasmic Thiamine Binding Lipoprotein 
Proteins  2011;79(2):528-536.
Mycoplasma genitalium is one of the smallest organisms capable of self-replication and its sequence is considered a starting point for understanding the minimal genome required for life. MG289, a putative phosphonate substrate binding protein, is considered to be one of these essential genes. The crystal structure of MG289 has been solved at 1.95 Å resolution. The structurally identified thiamine binding region reveals possible mechanisms for ligand promiscuity. MG289 was determined to be an extracytoplasmic thiamine binding lipoprotein. Computational analysis, size exclusion chromatography, and small angle X-ray scattering indicates that MG289 homodimerizes in a concentration-dependant manner. Comparisons to the thiamine pyrophosphate binding homolog Cypl reveal insights into the metabolic differences between mycoplasmal species including identifying possible kinases for cofactor phosphorylation and describing the mechanism of thiamine transport into the cell. These results provide a baseline to build our understanding of the minimal metabolic requirements of a living organism.
PMCID: PMC3017431  PMID: 21117240
p37; Cypl; substrate binding protein; extracytoplasmic lipoprotein; sexually transmitted infection; X-ray crystallography; small angle X-ray scattering
15.  A survey of the Mycoplasma genitalium genome by using random sequencing. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1993;175(24):7918-7930.
A total of 508 random clones from five Mycoplasma genitalium genomic libraries were partially sequenced and analyzed. This resulted in the identification of 291 unique contigs. Sequence information from these clones (100,993 nucleotides), representing approximately 17% of this pathogen's genome, was analyzed by comparison to the DNA and protein sequence data bases. The frequency with which clones could be identified, by virtue of possessing homology to another data base entry, was 46%. Sequence analysis indicated the following. (i) The M. genitalium genome contains many genes involved in various metabolic processes. (ii) Repetitive DNA may comprise as much as 4% of this genome. (iii) The MgPa adhesin gene may be the result of horizontal transfer from an unknown origin. (iv) Not all dinucleotide pairs are present in this genome at the expected frequency. (v) This genome potentially encodes approximately 390 proteins and makes very efficient use of its limited amount of DNA. In addition, this study allowed us to estimate the number of genes involved with various cellular functions.
PMCID: PMC206970  PMID: 8253680
16.  Mycoplasma genitalium P140 and P110 Cytadhesins Are Reciprocally Stabilized and Required for Cell Adhesion and Terminal-Organelle Development▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(24):8627-8637.
Mycoplasma genitalium is a human pathogen that mediates cell adhesion by a complex structure known as the attachment organelle. This structure is composed of cytadhesins and cytadherence-associated proteins, but few data are available about the specific role of these proteins in M. genitalium cytadherence. We have deleted by homologous recombination the mg191 and mg192 genes from the MgPa operon encoding the P140 and P110 cytadhesins. Molecular characterization of these mutants has revealed a reciprocal posttranslational stabilization between the two proteins. Loss of either P140 or P110 yields a hemadsorption-negative phenotype and correlates with decreased or increased levels of cytoskeleton-related proteins MG386 and DnaK, respectively. Scanning electron microscopy analysis reveals the absolute requirement of P140 and P110 for the proper development of the attachment organelle. The phenotype described for these mutants resembles that of the spontaneous class I and class II cytadherence-negative mutants [G. R. Mernaugh, S. F. Dallo, S. C. Holt, and J. B. Baseman, Clin. Infect. Dis. 17(Suppl. 1):S69-S78, 1993], whose genetic basis remained undetermined until now. Complementation assays and sequencing analysis demonstrate that class I and class II mutants are the consequence of large deletions affecting the mg192 and mg191-mg192 genes, respectively. These deletions originated from single-recombination events involving sequences of the MgPa operon and the MgPa island located immediately downstream. We also demonstrate the translocation of MgPa sequences to a particular MgPa island by double-crossover events. Based on these observations, we propose that in addition to being a source of antigenic variation, MgPa islands could be also involved in a general phase variation mechanism switching on and off, in a reversible or irreversible way, the adhesion properties of M. genitalium.
PMCID: PMC1698224  PMID: 17028283
17.  Intrastrain Heterogeneity of the mgpB Gene in Mycoplasma genitalium Is Extensive In Vitro and In Vivo and Suggests that Variation Is Generated via Recombination with Repetitive Chromosomal Sequences†  
Infection and Immunity  2006;74(7):3715-3726.
Mycoplasma genitalium is associated with reproductive tract disease in women and may persist in the lower genital tract for months, potentially increasing the risk of upper tract infection and transmission to uninfected partners. Despite its exceptionally small genome (580 kb), approximately 4% is composed of repeated elements known as MgPar sequences (MgPa repeats) based on their homology to the mgpB gene that encodes the immunodominant MgPa adhesin protein. The presence of these MgPar sequences, as well as mgpB variability between M. genitalium strains, suggests that mgpB and MgPar sequences recombine to produce variant MgPa proteins. To examine the extent and generation of diversity within single strains of the organism, we examined mgpB variation within M. genitalium strain G-37 and observed sequence heterogeneity that could be explained by recombination between the mgpB expression site and putative donor MgPar sequences. Similarly, we analyzed mgpB sequences from cervical specimens from a persistently infected woman (21 months) and identified 17 different mgpB variants within a single infecting M. genitalium strain, confirming that mgpB heterogeneity occurs over the course of a natural infection. These observations support the hypothesis that recombination occurs between the mgpB gene and MgPar sequences and that the resulting antigenically distinct MgPa variants may contribute to immune evasion and persistence of infection.
PMCID: PMC1489687  PMID: 16790744
18.  Functional Analysis of the Mycoplasma genitalium MG312 Protein Reveals a Specific Requirement of the MG312 N-Terminal Domain for Gliding Motility▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;189(19):7014-7023.
The human pathogen Mycoplasma genitalium is known to mediate cell adhesion to target cells by the attachment organelle, a complex structure also implicated in gliding motility. The gliding mechanism of M. genitalium cells is completely unknown, but recent studies have begun to elucidate the components of the gliding machinery. We report the study of MG312, a cytadherence-related protein containing in the N terminus a box enriched in aromatic and glycine residues (EAGR), which is also exclusively found in MG200 and MG386 gliding motility proteins. Characterization of an MG_312 deletion mutant obtained by homologous recombination has revealed that the MG312 protein is required for the assembly of the M. genitalium terminal organelle. This finding is consistent with the intermediate-cytadherence phenotype and the complete absence of gliding motility exhibited by this mutant. Reintroduction of several MG_312 deletion derivatives into the MG_312 null mutant allowed us to identify two separate functional domains: an N-terminal domain implicated in gliding motility and a C-terminal domain involved in cytadherence and terminal organelle assembly functions. In addition, our results also provide evidence that the EAGR box has a specific contribution to mycoplasma cell motion. Finally, the presence of a conserved ATP binding site known as a Walker A box in the MG312 N-terminal region suggests that this structural protein could also play an active function in the gliding mechanism.
PMCID: PMC2045215  PMID: 17675381
19.  Mycoplasma genitalium: an efficient strategy to generate genetic variation from a minimal genome 
Molecular Microbiology  2007;66(1):220-236.
Mycoplasma genitalium, a human pathogen associated with sexually transmitted diseases, is unique in that it has smallest genome of any known free-living organism. The goal of this study was to investigate if and how M. genitalium uses a minimal genome to generate genetic variations. We analysed the sequence variability of the third gene (MG192 or mgpC) of the M. genitalium MgPa adhesion operon, demonstrated that the MG192 gene is highly variable among and within M. genitalium strains in vitro and in vivo, and identified MG192 sequence shifts in the course of in vitro passage of the G37 type strain and in sequential specimens from an M. genitalium-infected patient. In order to establish the origin of the MG192 variants, we examined nine genomic loci containing partial copies of the MgPa operon, known as MgPar sequences. Our analysis suggests that the MG192 sequence variation is achieved by recombination between the MG192 expression site and MgPar sequences via gene cross-over and, possibly, also by gene conversion. It appears plausible that M. genitalium has the ability to generate unlimited variants from its minimized genome, which presumably allows the organism to adapt to diverse environments and/or to evade host defences by antigenic variation.
PMCID: PMC2169797  PMID: 17784912
20.  Comparative analysis of the genomes of the bacteria Mycoplasma pneumoniae and Mycoplasma genitalium. 
Nucleic Acids Research  1997;25(4):701-712.
The sequenced genomes of the two closely related bacteria Mycoplasma genitalium and Mycoplasma pneumoniae were compared with emphasis on genome organization and coding capacity. All the 470 proposed open reading frames (ORFs) of the smaller M.genitalium genome (580 kb) were contained in the larger genome (816 kb) of M.pneumoniae. There were some discrepancies in annotation, but inspection of the DNA sequences showed that the corresponding DNA was always present in M. pneumoniae. The two genomes could be subdivided into six segments. The order of orthologous genes was well conserved within individual segments but the order of these segments in both bacteria was different. We explain the different organization of the segments by translocation via homologous recombination. The translocations did not disturb the continuous bidirectional course of transcription in both genomes, starting at the proposed origin of replication. The additional 236 kb in M.pneumoniae,compared with theM.genitalium genome, were coding for 209 proposed ORFs not identified in M.genitalium. Of these ORFs, 110 were specific to M.pneumoniae exhibiting no significant similarity to M.genitalium ORFs, while 76 ORFs were amplifications of ORFs existing mainly as single copies in M. genitalium. In addition, 23 ORFs containing a copy of either one of the three repetitive DNA sequences RepMP2/3, RepMP4 and RepMP5 were annotated in M.pneumoniae but not in M.genitalium,although similar DNA sequences were present. TheM.pneumoniae-specific genes included a restriction-modification system, two transport systems for carbohydrates, the complete set of three genes coding for the arginine dihydrolase pathway and 14 copies of the repetitive DNA sequence RepMP1 which were part of several different translated genes with unknown function.
PMCID: PMC146517  PMID: 9016618
21.  The Schistosoma mansoni phylome: using evolutionary genomics to gain insight into a parasite’s biology 
BMC Genomics  2012;13:617.
Schistosoma mansoni is one of the causative agents of schistosomiasis, a neglected tropical disease that affects about 237 million people worldwide. Despite recent efforts, we still lack a general understanding of the relevant host-parasite interactions, and the possible treatments are limited by the emergence of resistant strains and the absence of a vaccine. The S. mansoni genome was completely sequenced and still under continuous annotation. Nevertheless, more than 45% of the encoded proteins remain without experimental characterization or even functional prediction. To improve our knowledge regarding the biology of this parasite, we conducted a proteome-wide evolutionary analysis to provide a broad view of the S. mansoni’s proteome evolution and to improve its functional annotation.
Using a phylogenomic approach, we reconstructed the S. mansoni phylome, which comprises the evolutionary histories of all parasite proteins and their homologs across 12 other organisms. The analysis of a total of 7,964 phylogenies allowed a deeper understanding of genomic complexity and evolutionary adaptations to a parasitic lifestyle. In particular, the identification of lineage-specific gene duplications pointed to the diversification of several protein families that are relevant for host-parasite interaction, including proteases, tetraspanins, fucosyltransferases, venom allergen-like proteins, and tegumental-allergen-like proteins. In addition to the evolutionary knowledge, the phylome data enabled us to automatically re-annotate 3,451 proteins through a phylogenetic-based approach rather than solely sequence similarity searches. To allow further exploitation of this valuable data, all information has been made available at PhylomeDB (
In this study, we used an evolutionary approach to assess S. mansoni parasite biology, improve genome/proteome functional annotation, and provide insights into host-parasite interactions. Taking advantage of a proteome-wide perspective rather than focusing on individual proteins, we identified that this parasite has experienced specific gene duplication events, particularly affecting genes that are potentially related to the parasitic lifestyle. These innovations may be related to the mechanisms that protect S. mansoni against host immune responses being important adaptations for the parasite survival in a potentially hostile environment. Continuing this work, a comparative analysis involving genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic data from other helminth parasites, other parasites, and vectors will supply more information regarding parasite’s biology as well as host-parasite interactions.
PMCID: PMC3534613  PMID: 23148687
Phylogenomics; Maximum likelihood analysis; Homology prediction; Functional annotation; Paralogous families; Parasite genomics; Schistosomiasis
22.  Cloning, expression, purification, crystallization and preliminary X-ray analysis of Mycoplasma genitalium protein MG289 
Single orthorhombic crystals of M. genitalium protein MG289 have been grown and shown to diffract X-rays to 2.8 Å resolution with good statistics. The structure obtained from these data will help to provide insight into the function of the protein as well as improving the understanding of its role in this human pathogen.
Mycoplasma genitalium is a human pathogen that is associated with non­gonococcal urethritis in men and cervicitis in women. The cloning, expression, purification and crystallization of the protein MG289 from M. genitalium strain G37 are reported here. Crystals of MG289 diffracted X-rays to 2.8 Å resolution. The crystals belonged to the orthorhombic space group P212121, with unit-cell parameters a = 49.7, b = 90.9, c = 176.1 Å. The diffraction data after processing had an overall R merge of 8.7%. The crystal structure of Cypl, the ortholog of MG289 from M. hyorhinis, has recently been determined, providing a reasonable phasing model; molecular replacement is currently under way.
PMCID: PMC2795598  PMID: 19724130
Mycoplasma genitalium; MG289; p37; extracytoplasmic thiamine-binding lipoprotein; Cypl
23.  A Mycoplasma genitalium protein resembling the Mycoplasma pneumoniae attachment protein. 
Infection and Immunity  1987;55(5):1126-1131.
In previous studies with hyperimmune rabbit sera and monoclonal antibodies against the P1 protein of Mycoplasma pneumoniae, we obtained evidence of a shared antigenic determinant with a single protein of Mycoplasma genitalium. Because of biologic and morphologic similarities between these two human Mycoplasma species, attempts were made to characterize this cross-reacting protein of M. genitalium (designated MgPa). The protein was surface exposed and had an estimated molecular size of 140 kilodaltons. Electron microscopy with monoclonal antibodies produced against either MgPa or P1 demonstrated that MgPa is located over the surface of the terminal structure of M. genitalium which is covered by a nap layer. These immunologic and morphologic findings suggest that the MgPa protein of M. genitalium could be the counterpart of the P1 protein of M. pneumoniae.
PMCID: PMC260479  PMID: 2437033
24.  Genetic Variation in the Complete MgPa Operon and Its Repetitive Chromosomal Elements in Clinical Strains of Mycoplasma genitalium 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15660.
Mycoplasma genitalium has been increasingly recognized as an important microbe not only because of its significant association with human genital tract diseases but also because of its utility as a model for studying the minimum set of genes necessary to sustain life. Despite its small genome, 4.7% of the total genome sequence is devoted to making the MgPa adhesin operon and its nine chromosomal repetitive elements (termed MgPars). The MgPa operon, along with 9 MgPars, is believed to play an important role in pathogenesis of M. genitalium infection and has also served as the main target for development of diagnostic tools. However, genetic variation in the complete MgPa operon and MgPars among clinical strains of M. genitalium has not been addressed. In this study we examined the genetic variation in the complete MgPa operon (approximately 8.5 kb) and full or partial MgPar sequences (0.4–2.6 kb) in 15 geographically diverse strains of M. genitalium. Extensive variation was present in four repeat regions of the MgPa operon (with homology to MgPars) among and within strains while the non-repeat regions (without homology to MgPars) showed low-level variation among strains and no variation within strains. MgPars showed significant variation among strains but were highly homogeneous within strains, supporting gene conversion as the likely recombination mechanism. When applying our sequence data to evaluate published MgPa operon-based diagnostic PCR assays and genotyping systems, we found that 11 of 19 primers contain up to 19 variable nucleotides and that the target for one of two typing systems is located in a hypervariable repeat region, suggesting the likelihood of false results with some of these assays. This study not only provides new insights into the role of the MgPa operon in the pathogenesis of M. genitalium infection but has important implications for the development of diagnostic tools.
PMCID: PMC3004944  PMID: 21187921
25.  Isolation and characterization of Mycoplasma genitalium strains from the human respiratory tract. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1988;26(11):2266-2269.
Mycoplasma genitalium, an organism first isolated from the urethras of two men with nongonococcal urethritis, has been found in throat specimens from military recruits participating in an inactivated Mycoplasma pneumoniae vaccine field trial in 1974-1975. Four of 16 preserved throat isolates, previously identified as strains of M. pneumoniae, have now been shown to be mixtures of M. pneumoniae and M. genitalium. Purification of these mixed mycoplasmas by selection of single colonies confirmed the presence of M. genitalium. Identification of M. genitalium was based upon the occurrence of a species-specific 140-kilodalton protein adhesin in these isolates and their serologic reactivity to an M. genitalium antiserum. The frequent occurrence of both M. pneumoniae and M. genitalium in a number of these throat specimens, in combination with their shared antigenic cross-reactivities, suggests the likelihood that M. genitalium strains are easily missed in the usual laboratory identification procedures. What role M. genitalium may play in human respiratory disease remains to be determined.
PMCID: PMC266873  PMID: 3148632

Results 1-25 (939131)