The recX gene potentiates homologous recombination in Neisseria gonorrhoeae

Mol Microbiol. 2001 Jun;40(6):1301-10. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2001.02463.x.


In the pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae (Gc), the RecA protein is necessary for DNA repair, DNA transformation and pilus antigenic variation. Many bacteria contain a gene, recX, which has been suggested to downregulate recA through an unknown mechanism. To investigate the possible role of recX in Gc, we cloned and insertionally inactivated the recX gene. The recX loss-of-function mutant showed decreases in pilus phase variation, DNA transformation and DNA repair ability compared with wild type. We were able to complement all these deficiencies by supplying a functional copy of recX elsewhere in the chromosome. The recX mutant still showed increases in pilus phase variation under conditions of iron starvation, and the recX mutant showed levels of RecA protein equivalent to wild type. Although the precise role of recX in recombination remains unclear, RecX aids all RecA-related processes in Gc, and this is the first demonstration of a role for recX in homologous recombination in any organism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Division / genetics
  • DNA Repair / genetics
  • Epitopes / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Genetic Complementation Test
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / genetics*
  • Rec A Recombinases / genetics
  • Recombination, Genetic*
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Transformation, Bacterial


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Epitopes
  • RecX protein, Xanthomonas campestris
  • Rec A Recombinases