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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Apr;77(7):2479-87. doi: 10.1128/AEM.02626-10. Epub 2011 Feb 4.

Significant shift in median guinea pig infectious dose shown by an outbreak-associated Listeria monocytogenes epidemic clone strain and a strain carrying a premature stop codon mutation in inlA.

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  • 1Department of Animal Sciences, Colorado State University, 108B Animal Sciences Building, Fort Collins, CO 80523-1171, USA.


Listeria monocytogenes contains (i) epidemic clone (EC) strains, which have been linked to the majority of listeriosis outbreaks worldwide and are overrepresented among sporadic cases in the United States, and (ii) strains commonly isolated from ready-to-eat foods that carry a mutation leading to a premature stop codon (PMSC) in inlA, which encodes the key virulence factor internalin A (InlA). Internalin A binds certain isoforms of the cellular receptor E-cadherin to facilitate crossing the intestinal barrier during the initial stages of an L. monocytogenes infection. Juvenile guinea pigs, which express the human isoform of E-cadherin that binds InlA, were intragastrically challenged with a range of doses of (i) an EC strain associated with a listeriosis outbreak or (ii) a strain carrying a PMSC mutation in inlA. Recovery of L. monocytogenes from tissues (i.e., liver, spleen, mesenteric lymph nodes, and ileum) was used to develop strain-specific dose-response curves on the basis of individual and combined organ data. Modeling of individual and combined organ data revealed an approximate 1.2 to 1.3 log(10) increase in the median infectious dose for the strain carrying a PMSC in inlA relative to that for the EC strain. Inclusion of the strain parameter significantly improved the goodness of fit for individual and combined organ models, indicating a significant shift in median infectious dose for guinea pigs challenged with an inlA PMSC strain compared to that for guinea pigs challenged with an EC strain. Results from this work provide evidence that the L. monocytogenes dose-response relationship is strain specific and will provide critical data for enhancement of current risk assessments and development of future risk assessments.

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