The expression of Neisseria gonorrhoeae opacity protein shows frequent phase transitions. The genome contains at least twelve copies of the opa gene. Each copy is complete and different from most of the others in certain hypervariable regions. All opa genes are constitutively transcribed. Part of the leader peptide of all Op's is encoded by repetitive CTTCT pentameric units, the so-called coding repeat (CR). The number of repeat units found in the genes and mRNA is subject to frequent and precise changes. Such changes affect the expression of individual opa genes at the translational level. This control mechanism is common also to the class 5 proteins of N. meningitidis and the Op-related proteins of N. lactamica.
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