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J Clin Microbiol. 2004 May;42(5):1923-32.

Sequencing and comparative analysis of flagellin genes fliC, fljB, and flpA from Salmonella.

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  • 1Foodborne and Diarrheal Diseases Branch, Division of Bacterial and Mycotic Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA.


Salmonella isolates have traditionally been classified by serotyping, the serologic identification of two surface antigens, O-polysaccharide and flagellin protein. Serotyping has been of great value in understanding the epidemiology of Salmonella and investigating disease outbreaks; however, production and quality control of the hundreds of antisera required for serotyping is difficult and time-consuming. To circumvent the problems associated with antiserum production, we began the development of a system for determination of serotype in Salmonella based on DNA markers. To identify flagellar antigen-specific sequences, we sequenced 280 alleles of the three genes that are known to encode flagellin in Salmonella, fliC, fljB, and flpA, representing 67 flagellar antigen types. Analysis of the data indicated that the sequences from fliC, fljB, and flpA clustered by the antigen(s) they encode not by locus. The sequences grouped into four clusters based on their conserved regions. Three of the four clusters included multiple flagellar antigen types and were designated the G complex, the Z4 complex, and the alpha cluster. The fourth cluster contained a single antigen type, H:z(29). The amino acid sequences of the conserved regions within each cluster have greater than 95% amino acid identity, whereas the conserved regions differ substantially between clusters (75 to 85% identity). Substantial sequence heterogeneity existed between alleles encoding different flagellar antigens while alleles encoding the same flagellar antigen were homologous, suggesting that flagellin genes may be useful targets for the molecular determination of flagellar antigen type.

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