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Open Access Research article

Complete genome sequence and lifestyle of black-pigmented Corynebacterium aurimucosum ATCC 700975 (formerly C. nigricans CN-1) isolated from a vaginal swab of a woman with spontaneous abortion

Eva Trost12, Susanne Götker1, Jessica Schneider123, Susanne Schneiker-Bekel4, Rafael Szczepanowski1, Alexandra Tilker5, Prisca Viehoever6, Walter Arnold5, Thomas Bekel3, Jochen Blom3, Karl-Heinz Gartemann7, Burkhard Linke3, Alexander Goesmann3, Alfred Pühler1, Sanjay K Shukla8 and Andreas Tauch1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institut für Genomforschung und Systembiologie, Centrum für Biotechnologie, Universität Bielefeld, Universitätsstraße 27, D-33615 Bielefeld, Germany

2 CLIB Graduate Cluster Industrial Biotechnology, Centrum für Biotechnologie, Universität Bielefeld, Universitätsstraße 27, D-33615 Bielefeld, Germany

3 Bioinformatics Resource Facility, Centrum für Biotechnologie, Universität Bielefeld, Universitätsstraße 25, D-33615 Bielefeld, Germany

4 International NRW Graduate School in Bioinformatics and Genome Research, Centrum für Biotechnologie, Universität Bielefeld, Universitätsstraße 25, D-33615 Bielefeld, Germany

5 Institut für Innovationstransfer an der Universität Bielefeld GmbH, Universitätsstraße 25, D-33615 Bielefeld, Germany

6 Lehrstuhl für Genomforschung, Fakultät für Biologie, Universität Bielefeld, Universitätsstraße 27, D-33615 Bielefeld, Germany

7 Lehrstuhl für Gentechnologie und Mikrobiologie, Fakultät für Biologie, Universität Bielefeld, Universitätsstraße 25, D-33615 Bielefeld, Germany

8 Clinical Research Center, Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, Wisconsin, USA

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11:91  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-91

Published: 5 February 2010

Abstract

Background

Corynebacterium aurimucosum is a slightly yellowish, non-lipophilic, facultative anaerobic member of the genus Corynebacterium and predominantly isolated from human clinical specimens. Unusual black-pigmented variants of C. aurimucosum (originally named as C. nigricans) continue to be recovered from the female urogenital tract and they are associated with complications during pregnancy. C. aurimucosum ATCC 700975 (C. nigricans CN-1) was originally isolated from a vaginal swab of a 34-year-old woman who experienced a spontaneous abortion during month six of pregnancy. For a better understanding of the physiology and lifestyle of this potential urogenital pathogen, the complete genome sequence of C. aurimucosum ATCC 700975 was determined.

Results

Sequencing and assembly of the C. aurimucosum ATCC 700975 genome yielded a circular chromosome of 2,790,189 bp in size and the 29,037-bp plasmid pET44827. Specific gene sets associated with the central metabolism of C. aurimucosum apparently provide enhanced metabolic flexibility and adaptability in aerobic, anaerobic and low-pH environments, including gene clusters for the uptake and degradation of aromatic amines, L-histidine and L-tartrate as well as a gene region for the formation of selenocysteine and its incorporation into formate dehydrogenase. Plasmid pET44827 codes for a non-ribosomal peptide synthetase that plays the pivotal role in the synthesis of the characteristic black pigment of C. aurimucosum ATCC 700975.

Conclusions

The data obtained by the genome project suggest that C. aurimucosum could be both a resident of the human gut and possibly a pathogen in the female genital tract causing complications during pregnancy. Since hitherto all black-pigmented C. aurimucosum strains have been recovered from female genital source, biosynthesis of the pigment is apparently required for colonization by protecting the bacterial cells against the high hydrogen peroxide concentration in the vaginal environment. The location of the corresponding genes on plasmid pET44827 explains why black-pigmented (formerly C. nigricans) and non-pigmented C. aurimucosum strains were isolated from clinical specimens.