Genomic islands interspersed in the chromosome of P. aeruginosa led to inter- and intraclonal diversity. Recently, a particular clone of P. aeruginosa called clone C was isolated from cystic fibrosis (CF) patients, clinical and non-clinical habitats throughout Europe and in Canada. P. aeruginosa clone C strains harbour up to several hundred acquired genes involved in the adaptation of bacteria to diverse niches. Two genes (hp25 and hp18) from one of the hypervariable regions in the chromosome of clone C strains were highly expressed under standard culture conditions as well as under conditions that mimicked CF sputum environment. Protein sequence analysis revealed that Hp25 and Hp18 belonged to small heat shock protein (sHSP) family. Hp25 protein possessed α-crystallin domain, which is a conserved region among heat shock proteins involved in diverse functions. Sequence homology search revealed that in the Methylobacillus flagellatus genome both genes were situated close to each other and the hp25 gene is found among a few other members of Proteobacteria. Expression of hp25 and hp18 by inter- and intraclonal strains of P. aeruginosa suggested that both genes were present in the stable part of the hypervariable region at the toxR locus and might play a role in their adaptation to diverse niches including the CF lung environment.
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