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Genetic Transformation of Biosynthetically Defective Neisseria gonorrhoeae Clinical Isolates

  • B. Wesley Catlin
Publication Date
Oct 01, 1974
  • Chemistry
  • Design
  • Medicine


Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and chemically defined media were used in transformation tests of 51 strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae which exhibited various biosynthetic defects when isolated from patients. These auxotrophic gonococci had one or more nutritional requirements involving proline, methionine, arginine, hypoxanthine, uracil, and thiamine pyrophosphate (THPP). DNA from a clinical isolate which did not require these compounds for growth on defined medium transformed each of the auxotrophic markers of all 51 recipient populations. Ten isolates had defects involving the synthesis of THPP; four strains (designated Thp−) had a growth requirement that was satisfied only by THPP, whereas the requirement of six strains (designated Thi−) was satisfied by either thiamine or THPP. DNA from Thp− donors elicited transformation of Thp− as well as Thi− recipients. Reciprocally, DNA from a Thi− donor transformed both Thi− and Thp− recipients. Furthermore, DNA from other auxotrophic gonococci had transforming activity for some phenotypically similar auxotrophic recipients. The findings indicate the existence of various nonidentical genetic defects which block reactions in the biosynthesis of proline, methionine, arginine, hypoxanthine, and THPP. Routine cultures from patients with gonorrhea were the source of these auxotrophic strains of N. gonorrhoeae; the various nutritional requirements were identified by a recently described system of gonococcal auxotyping. The transformation test results verify the hereditary basis of the auxotypes, establish that many different mutations exist in potentially virulent gonococci, and illustrate the value of these auxotrophic mutants for studies of the genetic structure and evolution of natural populations of gonococci.

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