Bartonella henselae is a facultative intracellular pathogen that occurs worldwide and is responsible primarily for cat-scratch disease in young people and bacillary angiomatosis in immunocompromised patients. The principal source of genome-level diversity that contributes to B. henselae's host-adaptive features is thought to be horizontal gene transfer events. However, our analyses did not reveal the acquisition of horizontally-transferred islands in B. henselae after its divergence from other Bartonella. Rather, diversity in gene content and genome size was apparently acquired through two alternative mechanisms, including deletion and, more predominantly, duplication of genes. Interestingly, a majority of these events occurred in regions that were horizontally transferred long before B. henselae's divergence from other Bartonella species. Our study indicates the possibility that gene duplication, in response to positive selection pressures in specific clones of B. henselae, might be linked to the pathogen's adaptation to arthropod vectors, the cat reservoir, or humans as incidental host-species.
- Bartonella henselae
- Facultative intracellular human pathogen
- Gene deletion
- Gene duplication
- Gene mosaicism in bacterial genomes