Evidence for diversifying selection of genetic regions of encoding putative collagen-like host-adhesive fibers in Pasteuria penetrans
Mauchline, Tim H.
Pasteuria spp. belong to a group of genetically diverse endospore-forming bacteria (phylum: Firmicutes) that are known to parasitize plant-parasitic nematodes and water fleas (Daphnia spp.). Collagen-like fibres form the nap on the surface of endospores and the genes encoding these sequences have been hypothesised to be involved in the adhesion of the endospores of Pasteuria spp. to their hosts. We report a group of 17 unique collagen-like genes putatively encoded by Pasteuria penetrans (strain: Res148) that formed five different phylogenetic clusters and suggest that collagen-like proteins are an important source of genetic diversity in animal pathogenic Firmicutes including Pasteuria. Additionally, and unexpectedly, we identified a putative collagen-like sequence which had a very different sequence structure to the other collagen-like proteins but was similar to the protein sequences in Megaviruses that are involved in host-parasite interactions. We, therefore, suggest that these diverse endospore surface proteins in Pasteuria are involved in biological functions, such as cellular adhesion; however, they are not of monophyletic origin and were possibly obtained de novo by mutation or possibly through selection acting upon several historic horizontal gene transfer events.