Identification of Brucella melitensis 16M genes required for bacterial survival in the caprine host

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Brucella species are Gram-negative bacteria which belong to α-Proteobacteria family. These organisms are zoonotic pathogens that induce abortion and sterility in domestic mammals and chronic infections in humans known as Malta fever. The virulence of Brucella is dependent upon its ability to enter and colonize the cells in which it multiplies. The genetic basis of this aspect is poorly understood. Signature-tagged mutagenesis (STM) was used to identify potential Brucella virulence factors. PCR amplification has been used in place of DNA hybridization to identify the STM-generated attenuated mutants. A library of 288 Brucella melitensis 16M tagged mini-Tn5 Km2 mutants, in 24 pools, was screened for its ability to colonize spleen, lymph nodes and liver of goats at three weeks post-i.v. infection. This comparative screening identified 7 mutants (approximately 5%) which were not recovered from the output pool in goats. Some genes were known virulence genes involved in biosynthesis of LPS (lpsA gene) or in intracellular survival (the virB operon). Other mutants included ones which had a disrupted gene homologous to flgF, a gene coding for the basal-body rod of the flagellar apparatus, and another with a disruption in a gene homologous to ppk which is involved in the biosynthesis of inorganic polyphosphate (PolyP) from ATP. Other genes identified encoded factors involved in DNA metabolism and oxidoreduction metabolism. Using STM and the caprine host for screening, potential virulence determinants in B. melitensis have been identified. © 2006 Elsevier Masson SAS. All rights reserved.

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Microbes and Infection

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