Inverse autotransporters comprise the recently identified type Ve secretion system and are exemplified by intimin from enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli and invasin from enteropathogenic Yersiniae. These proteins share a common domain architecture and promote bacterial adhesion to host cells. Here, we identified and characterized two putative inverse autotransporter genes in the fish pathogen Yersinia ruckeri NVH_3758, namely yrInv (for Y. ruckeri invasin) and yrIlm (for Y. ruckeri invasin-like molecule). When trying to clone the highly repetitive genes for structural and functional studies, we experienced problems in obtaining PCR products. PCR failures and the highly repetitive nature of inverse autotransporters prompted us to sequence the genome of Y. ruckeri NVH_3758 using PacBio sequencing, which produces some of the longest average read lengths available in the industry at this moment. According to our sequencing data, YrIlm is composed of 2603 amino acids (7812bp) and has a molecular mass of 256.4kDa. Based on the new genome information, we performed PCR analysis on four non-sequenced Y. ruckeri strains as well as the sequenced. Y. ruckeri type strain. We found that the genes are variably present in the strains, and that the length of yrIlm, when present, also varies. In addition, the length of the gene product for all strains, including the type strain, was much longer than expected based on deposited sequences. The internal repeats of the yrInv gene product are highly diverged, but represent the same bacterial immunoglobulin-like domains as in yrIlm. Using qRT-PCR, we found that yrIlm and yrInv are differentially expressed under conditions relevant for pathogenesis. In addition, we compared the genomic context of both genes in the newly sequenced Y. ruckeri strain to all available PacBio-sequenced Y. ruckeri genomes, and found indications of recent events of horizontal gene transfer. Taken together, this study demonstrates and highlights the power of Single Molecule Real-Time technology for sequencing highly repetitive proteins, and sheds light on the genetic events that gave rise to these highly repetitive genes in a commercially important fish pathogen.
Keywords: Bacterial Ig-like domains; Invasin; Inverse autotransporters; PacBio sequencing; Yersinia ruckeri.
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