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J Biol Chem. 2004 May 7;279(19):20327-38. Epub 2004 Feb 25.

Genome-wide expression analyses of Campylobacter jejuni NCTC11168 reveals coordinate regulation of motility and virulence by flhA.

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  • 1Institute for Biological Sciences, National Research Council of Canada, 100 Sussex Drive, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0R6, Canada.


We examined two variants of the genome-sequenced strain, Campylobacter jejuni NCTC11168, which show marked differences in their virulence properties including colonization of poultry, invasion of Caco-2 cells, and motility. Transcript profiles obtained from whole genome DNA microarrays and proteome analyses demonstrated that these differences are reflected in late flagellar structural components and in virulence factors including those involved in flagellar glycosylation and cytolethal distending toxin production. We identified putative sigma(28) and sigma(54) promoters for many of the affected genes and found that greater differences in expression were observed for sigma(28)-controlled genes. Inactivation of the gene encoding sigma(28), fliA, resulted in an unexpected increase in transcripts with sigma(54) promoters, as well as decreased transcription of sigma(28)-regulated genes. This was unlike the transcription profile observed for the attenuated C. jejuni variant, suggesting that the reduced virulence of this organism was not entirely due to impaired function of sigma(28). However, inactivation of flhA, an important component of the flagellar export apparatus, resulted in expression patterns similar to that of the attenuated variant. These findings indicate that the flagellar regulatory system plays an important role in campylobacter pathogenesis and that flhA is a key element involved in the coordinate regulation of late flagellar genes and of virulence factors in C. jejuni.

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