Whole-genome organization and functional properties of miniature DNA insertion sequences conserved in pathogenic Neisseriae

Gene. 2001 Oct 31;278(1-2):211-22. doi: 10.1016/s0378-1119(01)00725-9.


The chromosome of pathogenic Neisseriae is peppered by members of an abundant family of small DNA sequences known as Correia elements. These DNA repeats, that we call nemis (for neisseria miniature insertion sequences) can be sorted into two major size classes. Both unit-length (154-158 bp) and internally rearranged (104-108 bp) elements feature long terminal inverted repeats (TIRs), and can potentially fold into robust stem-loop structures. Nemis are (or have been) mobile DNA sequences which generate a specific 2-bp target site duplication upon insertion, and strictly recall RUP, a repeated DNA element found in Streptococcus pneumoniae. The subfamilies of 26L/26R, 26L/27R, 27L/27R and 27L/26R elements, found by wide-genome computer surveys in both the Neisseria meningitidis and the Neisseria gonorrhoeae genomes, originate from the combination of TIRs which vary in length (26-27 bp) as in sequence content (L and R types). In both species, the predominant subfamily is made by the 26L/26R elements. The number of nemis is comparable in the N. meningitidis Z2491 (A serogroup) and the MC58 (B serogroup) strains, but is sharply reduced in the N. gonorrhoeae strain F1090. Consequently, several genes which are conserved in the two pathogens are flanked by nemis DNA in the meningococcus genome only. More than 2/3 of nemis are interspersed with single-copy DNA, and are found at close distance from cellular genes. Both primer extension and RNase protection data lend support to the notion that nemis are cotranscribed with cellular genes and subsequently processed, at either one or both TIRs, by a specific endoribonuclease, which plausibly corresponds to RNase III.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites / genetics
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial / genetics
  • Conserved Sequence / genetics*
  • DNA Transposable Elements / genetics*
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Genes, Bacterial / genetics
  • Genome, Bacterial*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Neisseria / genetics*
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / genetics
  • Neisseria meningitidis / genetics
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Sequence Homology, Nucleic Acid
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae / genetics
  • Transcription, Genetic / genetics


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • DNA, Bacterial