Nesbø CL, Nelson KE, Doolittle WF

Suppressive subtractive hybridization detects extensive genomic diversity in Thermotoga maritima.

Journal of bacteriology. 2002-08-01; 184.16: 4475-88.

Comparisons between genomes of closely related bacteria often show large variations in gene content, even between strains of the same species. Such studies have focused mainly on pathogens; here, we examined Thermotoga maritima, a free-living hyperthermophilic bacterium, by using suppressive subtractive hybridization. The genome sequence of T. maritima MSB8 is available, and DNA from this strain served as a reference to obtain strain-specific sequences from Thermotoga sp. strain RQ2, a very close relative (approximately 96% identity for orthologous protein-coding genes, 99.7% identity in the small-subunit rRNA sequence). Four hundred twenty-six RQ2 subtractive clones were sequenced. One hundred sixty-six had no DNA match in the MSB8 genome. These differential clones comprise, in sum, 48 kb of RQ2-specific DNA and match 72 genes in the GenBank database. From the number of identical clones, we estimated that RQ2 contains 350 to 400 genes not found in MSB8. Assuming a similar genome size, this corresponds to 20% of the RQ2 genome. A large proportion of the RQ2-specific genes were predicted to be involved in sugar transport and polysaccharide degradation, suggesting that polysaccharides are more important as nutrients for this strain than for MSB8. Several clones encode proteins involved in the production of surface polysaccharides. RQ2 encodes multiple subunits of a V-type ATPase, while MSB8 possesses only an F-type ATPase. Moreover, an RQ2-specific MutS homolog was found among the subtractive clones and appears to belong to a third novel archaeal type MutS lineage. Southern blot analyses showed that some of the RQ2 differential sequences are found in some other members of the order Thermotogales, but the distribution of these variable genes is patchy, suggesting frequent lateral gene transfer within the group.

PMID: 12142418