The mucA gene of the muc operon, which is instrumental in the control of the biosynthesis of the exopolysaccharide alginate, is a hotspot of mutation in Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a micro-organism that chronically colonizes the airways of individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). The mucA, mucB and mucD genes were sequenced in nine environmental isolates from aquatic habitats, and in 37 P. aeruginosa strains isolated from 10 patients with CF, at onset or at a late stage of chronic airway colonization, in order to elucidate whether there was any association between mutation and background genotype. The 61 identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) segregated into 18 mucABD genotypes. Acquired and de novo stop mucA mutations were present in 14 isolates (38 %) of five mucABD genotypes. ΔG430 was the most frequent and recurrent mucA mutation detected in four genotypes. The classification of strains by mucABD genotype was generally concordant with that by genome-wide Spel fragment pattern or multilocus SNP genotypes. The exceptions point to intragenic mosaicism and interclonal recombination as major forces for intraclonal evolution at the mucABD locus.
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