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J Bacteriol. 2004 Jan;186(2):503-17.

The genome-sequenced variant of Campylobacter jejuni NCTC 11168 and the original clonal clinical isolate differ markedly in colonization, gene expression, and virulence-associated phenotypes.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Bacteriol. 2004 Dec;186(23):8159.


The genome sequence of the enteric bacterial pathogen Campylobacter jejuni NCTC 11168 (11168-GS) was published in 2000, providing a valuable resource for the identification of C. jejuni-specific colonization and virulence factors. Surprisingly, the 11168-GS clone was subsequently found to colonize 1-day-old chicks following oral challenge very poorly compared to other strains. In contrast, we have found that the original clinical isolate from which 11168-GS was derived, 11168-O, is an excellent colonizer of chicks. Other marked phenotypic differences were also identified: 11168-O invaded and translocated through tissue culture cells far more efficiently and rapidly than 11168-GS, was significantly more motile, and displayed a different morphology. Serotyping, multiple high-resolution molecular genotyping procedures, and subtractive hybridization did not yield observable genetic differences between the variants, suggesting that they are clonal. However, microarray transcriptional profiling of these strains under microaerobic and severely oxygen-limited conditions revealed dramatic expression differences for several gene families. Many of the differences were in respiration and metabolism genes and operons, suggesting that adaptation to different oxygen tensions may influence colonization potential. This correlates biologically with our observation that anaerobically priming 11168-GS or aerobically passaging 11168-O caused an increase or decrease, respectively, in colonization compared to the parent strain. Expression differences were also observed for several flagellar genes and other less well-characterized genes that may participate in motility. Targeted sequencing of the sigma factors revealed specific DNA differences undetected by the other genomic methods [corrected].

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