Read, T. D., Satola, S. W., Farley, M. M.
Nucleotide Sequence Analysis of Hypervariable Junctions of Haemophilus influenzae Pilus Gene Clusters
Infect Immun. 2000 Dec 01; 68(12): 6896-902.
Haemophilus influenzae pili are surface structures that promote attachment to human epithelial cells. The five genes that encode pili, hifABCDE, are found inserted in genomes either between pmbA and hpt (hif-1) or between purE and pepN (hif-2). We determined the sequence between the ends of the pilus clusters and bordering genes in a number of H. influenzae strains. The junctions of the hif-1 cluster (limited to biogroup aegyptius isolates) are structurally simple. In contrast, hif-2 junctions are highly diverse, complex assemblies of conserved intergenic sequences (including genes hicA and hicB) with evidence of frequent recombination. Variation at hif-2 junctions seems to be tied to multiple copies of a 23-bp Haemophilus intergenic dyad sequence. The hif-1 cluster appears to have originated in biogroup aegyptius strains from invasion of the hpt-pmbA region by a DNA template containing the hif-2 genes with termini in the hairpin loop of flanking intergenic dyad sequences. The pilus gene clusters are an interesting model of a mobile "pathogenicity island" not associated with a phage, transposon, or insertion element.