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Infect Immun. 2006 Jul;74(7):3874-9.

Deletion of znuA virulence factor attenuates Brucella abortus and confers protection against wild-type challenge.

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  • 1Veterinary Molecular Biology, Montana State University, Bozeman, MT 59717-3610, USA.


znuA is known to be an important factor for survival and normal growth under low Zn(2+) concentrations for Escherichia coli, Haemophilus spp., Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and Pasteurella multocida. We hypothesized that the znuA gene present in Brucella melitensis 16 M would be similar to znuA in B. abortus and questioned whether it may also be an important factor for growth and virulence of Brucella abortus. Using the B. melitensis 16 M genome sequence, primers were designed to construct a B. abortus deletion mutant. A znuA knockout mutation in B. abortus 2308 (DeltaznuA) was constructed and found to be lethal in low-Zn(2+) medium. When used to infect macrophages, DeltaznuA B. abortus showed minimal growth. Further study with DeltaznuA B. abortus showed that its virulence in BALB/c mice was attenuated, and most of the bacteria were cleared from the spleen within 8 weeks. Protection studies confirmed the DeltaznuA mutant as a potential live vaccine, since protection against wild-type B. abortus 2308 challenge was as effective as that obtained with the RB51 or S19 vaccine strain.

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