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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

High-frequency S-layer protein variation in Campylobacter fetus revealed by sapA mutagenesis.

Campylobacter fetus utilizes paracrystalline surface (S-) layer proteins that confer complement resistance and that undergo antigenic variation to facilitate persistent mucosal colonization in ungulates. C. fetus possesses multiple homologues of sapA, each of which encode full-length S-layer proteins. Disruption of sapA by a gene targeting method (insertion of kanamycin (km) resistance) caused the loss of C. fetus cells bearing full-length S-layer proteins and their replacement by cells bearing a 50 kDa truncated protein that was not exported to the cell surface. After incubation of the mutants with serum, the survival rate was approximately 2 x 10(-2). Immunoblots of survivors showed that phenotypic reversion involving high-level production of full-length (98, 127 or 149 kDa) S-layer proteins had occurred. Revertants were serum resistant but caused approximately 10-fold less bacteraemia in orally challenged mice than did the wild-type strain. Southern hybridizations of the revertants showed rearrangement of sapA homologues and retention of the km marker. These results indicate that there exists high-frequency generation of C. fetus sapA antigenic variants, and that intracellular mechanisms acting at the level of DNA reciprocal recombination play key roles in this phenomenon.[1]


  1. High-frequency S-layer protein variation in Campylobacter fetus revealed by sapA mutagenesis. Blaser, M.J., Wang, E., Tummuru, M.K., Washburn, R., Fujimoto, S., Labigne, A. Mol. Microbiol. (1994) [Pubmed]
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