Impact of large chromosomal inversions on the adaptation and evolution of Pseudomonas aeruginosa chronically colonizing cystic fibrosis lungs

Mol Microbiol. 2003 Jan;47(1):145-58. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2958.2003.03261.x.


Pseudomonas aeruginosa chronically colonizing the lungs of cystic fibrosis (CF) patients undergoes fast evolution leading to clonal divergence. More than half of the genotypes of P. aeruginosa clone C isolates exclusively from CF lung infection exhibit large chromosomal inversions (LCIs). To analyse the impact of LCIs, as a novel mechanism of bacterial adaptation, the underlying molecular mechanism was examined. Analysis of inversion breakpoints suggested an IS6100-induced coupled insertion-inversion mechanism. A selective advantage was created by insertion of IS6100 into wbpM, pilB and mutS which leads to common CF phenotypes such as O-antigen and type IV pili deficiency and hypermutability. Speciation in bacteria is accompanied by LCIs. Therefore adaptation by LCIs that allows persistence of P. aeruginosa in the CF lung and species diversification in that new ecological niche can serve as a model for bacterial genome evolution.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Chromosome Inversion*
  • Chromosomes, Bacterial / genetics*
  • Cystic Fibrosis / microbiology*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Gene Deletion
  • Gene Rearrangement*
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Lipopolysaccharides / analysis
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional
  • Plasmids
  • Pseudomonas Infections / microbiology*
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / classification
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa / genetics*
  • Restriction Mapping


  • Lipopolysaccharides