High‐frequency rearrangements in the chromosome of Mycoplasma pulmonis correlate with phenotypic switching

Academic Article


  • Mycoplasma pulmonis is a murine pathogen that causes chronic respiratory disease in laboratory rats and mice. Several examples of high‐frequency phenotypic switching have been reported for M. pulmonis, the molecular basis of which is unknown. We report here that during growth the M. pulmonis chromosome undergoes DNA rearrangements at a high frequency. Some of the rearrangements we examined correlated with changes in the susceptibility of the cells to mycoplasma virus P1, an example of phenotypic switching involving changes in surface antigen structure. Other rearrangements, unrelated to phenotypic switching, involved a DNA element present in the chromosome in multiple copies. The high level of DNA recombination that occurred in M. pulmonis indicates that this may be one of the most variable genomes studied to date. High levels of DNA recombination may contribute to the unusually high rate of evolution that mycoplasmas are thought to be undergoing. Understanding the molecular basis for this phenomenon may provide an insight into the chronic nature of many mycoplasmal infections. Copyright © 1992, Wiley Blackwell. All rights reserved
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Bhugra B; Dybvig K
  • Start Page

  • 1149
  • End Page

  • 1154
  • Volume

  • 6
  • Issue

  • 9