Virulence factors of pathogenic bacteria (adhesins, toxins, invasins, protein secretion systems, iron uptake systems, and others) may be encoded by particular regions of the prokaryotic genome termed pathogenicity islands. Pathogenicity islands were first described in human pathogens of the species , but have recently been found in the genomes of various pathogens of humans, animals, and plants. Pathogenicity islands comprise large genomic regions [10–200 kilobases (kb) in size] that are present on the genomes of pathogenic strains but absent from the genomes of nonpathogenic members of the same or related species. The finding that the G+C content of pathogenicity islands often differs from that of the rest of the genome, the presence of direct repeats at their ends, the association of pathogenicity islands with transfer RNA genes, the presence of integrase determinants and other mobility loci, and their genetic instability argue for the generation of pathogenicity islands by horizontal gene transfer, a process that is well known to contribute to microbial evolution. In this article we review these and other aspects of pathogenicity islands and discuss the concept that they represent a subclass of genomic islands. Genomic islands are present in the majority of genomes of pathogenic as well as nonpathogenic bacteria and may encode accessory functions which have been previously spread among bacterial populations.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Review Article
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a Success
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error