The microsporidian Vittaforma corneae has been reported as a pathogen of the human stratum corneum, where it can cause keratitis, and is associated with systemic infections. In addition to this direct role as an infectious, etiologic agent of human disease, V. corneae has been used as a model organism for another microsporidian, Enterocytozoon bieneusi, a frequent and problematic pathogen of HIV-infected patients that, unlike V. corneae, is difficult to maintain and to study in vitro. Unfortunately, few molecular sequences are available for V. corneae. In this study, seventy-four genome survey sequences (GSS) were obtained from genomic DNA of spores of laboratory-cultured V. corneae. Approximately, 41 discontinuous kilobases of V. corneae were cloned and sequenced to generate these GSS. Putative identities were assigned to 44 of the V. corneae GSS based on BLASTX searches, representing 21 discrete proteins. Of these 21 deduced V. corneae proteins, only two had been reported previously from other microsporidia (until the recent report of the Encephalitozoon cuniculi genome). Two of the V. corneae proteins were of particular interest, reverse transcriptase and topoisomerase IV (parC). Since the existence of transposable elements in microsporidia is controversial, the presence of reverse transcriptase in V. corneae will contribute to resolution of this debate. The presence of topoisomerase IV was remarkable because this enzyme previously had been identified only from prokaryotes. The 74 GSS included 26.7 kilobases of unique sequences from which two statistics were generated: GC content and codon usage. The GC content of the unique GSS was 42%, lower than that of another microsporidian, E. cuniculi (48% for protein-encoding regions), and substantially higher than that predicted for a third microsporidian, Spraguea lophii (28%). A comparison using the Pearson correlation coefficient showed that codon usage in V. corneae was similar to that in the yeasts, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (r = 0.79) and Shizosaccharomyces pombe (r = 0.70), but was markedly dissimilar to E. cuniculi (r = 0.19).
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Vol. 49 • No. 5