Genomic Signatures of Distributive Conjugal Transfer among Mycobacteria
Lateral gene transfer is an integral part of genome evolution in most bacteria. Bacteria can readily change the contents of their genomes to increase adaptability to ever-changing surroundings and to generate evolutionary novelty. Here, we report instances of lateral gene transfer in Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis, a pathogenic bacteria that causes Johne's disease in cattle. A set of 275 genes are identified that are likely to have been recently acquired by lateral gene transfer. The analysis indicated that 53 of the 275 genes were acquired after the divergence of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis from M. avium subsp. avium, whereas the remaining 222 genes were possibly acquired by a common ancestor of M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis and M. avium subsp. avium after its divergence from the ancestor of M. tuberculosis complex. Many of the acquired genes were from proteobacteria or soil dwelling actinobacteria. Prominent among the predicted laterally transferred genes is the gene rsbR, a possible regulator of sigma factor, and the genes designated MAP3614 and MAP3757, which are similar to genes in eukaryotes. The results of this study suggest that like most other bacteria, lateral gene transfers seem to be a common feature in M. avium subsp. paratuberculosis and that the proteobacteria contribute most of these genetic exchanges.