Repetitive extragenic palindromic (REPs) sequences were first described in enterobacteriacea and later in Pseudomonas putida. We have detected a new variant (51 base pairs) of REP sequences that appears to be disseminated in more than 300 copies in the Pseudomonas syringae DC3000 genome. The finding of REP sequences in P. syringae confirms the broad presence of this type of repetitive sequence in bacteria. We analyzed the distribution of REP sequences and the structure of the clusters, and we show that palindromy is conserved. REP sequences appear to be allocated to the extragenic space, with a special preference for the intergenic spaces limited by convergent genes, while their presence is scarce between divergent genes. Using REP sequences as markers of extragenicity we re-annotated a set of genes of the P. syringae DC3000 genome demonstrating that REP sequences can be used for refinement of annotation of a genome. The similarity detected between virulence genes from evolutionarily distant pathogenic bacteria suggests the acquisition of clusters of virulence genes by horizontal gene transfer. We did not detect the presence of P. syringae REP elements in the principal pathogenicity gene clusters. This absence suggests that genome fragments lacking REP sequences could point to regions recently acquired from other organisms, and REP sequences might be new tracers for gaining insight into key aspects of bacterial genome evolution, especially when studying pathogenicity acquisition. In addition, as the P. syringae REP sequence is species-specific with respect to the sequenced genomes, it is an exceptional candidate for use as a fingerprint in precise genotyping and epidemiological studies. © 2004 Elsevier SAS. All rights reserved.
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