Evaluating the virulence of a Brucella melitensis hemagglutinin gene in the caprine model

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With the completion of the genomic sequence of Brucella melitensis 16M, a putative hemagglutinin gene was identified which is present in 16M and absent in Brucella abortus. The possibility of this hemagglutinin being a potential virulence factor was evaluated via gene replacement in B. melitensis yielding 16MΔE and expression in trans in B. abortus 2308-QAE. Utilizing the caprine brucellosis model, colonization and pathogenesis studies were performed to evaluate these strains. B. melitensis 16M hemagglutinin gene expression in trans in 2308-QAE revealed a significant (p≤ 0.05) increase in colonization and abortion rates when compared to B. abortus 2308, mimicking B. melitensis 16M virulence in pregnant goats. The B. melitensis disruption mutant's colonization and abortion rates demonstrated no attenuation in colonization but displayed a 28% reduction in abortions when compared to parental B. melitensis 16M. © 2010 Elsevier Ltd.

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