Coordinated phenotype switching with large-scale chromosome flip-flop inversion observed in bacteria

Longzhu Cui, Hui Min Neoh, Akira Iwamoto, Keiichi Hiramatsu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

37 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Genome inversions are ubiquitous in organisms ranging from prokaryotes to eukaryotes. Typical examples can be identified by comparing the genomes of two or more closely related organisms, where genome inversion footprints are clearly visible. Although the evolutionary implications of this phenomenon are huge, little is known about the function and biological meaning of this process. Here, we report our findings on a bacterium that generates a reversible, large-scale inversion of its chromosome (about half of its total genome) at high frequencies of up to once every four generations. This inversion switches on or off bacterial phenotypes, including colony morphology, antibiotic susceptibility, hemolytic activity, and expression of dozens of genes. Quantitative measurements and mathematical analyses indicate that this reversible switching is stochastic but self-organized so as to maintain two forms of stable cell populations (i.e., small colony variant, normal colony variant) as a bet-hedging strategy. Thus, this heritable and reversible genome fluctuation seems to govern the bacterial life cycle; it has a profound impact on the course and outcomes of bacterial infections.

Original languageEnglish
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume109
Issue number25
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jun 2012

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Chromosomes
Genome
Bacteria
Phenotype
Biological Phenomena
Population Dynamics
Life Cycle Stages
Eukaryota
Bacterial Infections
Anti-Bacterial Agents
Gene Expression

Keywords

  • Genome rearrangement
  • Heterogeneity of bacterial population
  • Phase variation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Coordinated phenotype switching with large-scale chromosome flip-flop inversion observed in bacteria. / Cui, Longzhu; Neoh, Hui Min; Iwamoto, Akira; Hiramatsu, Keiichi.

In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 109, No. 25, 19.06.2012.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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