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PLoS One. 2011;6(9):e24611. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0024611. Epub 2011 Sep 8.

Requirement of the CXXC motif of novel Francisella infectivity potentiator protein B FipB, and FipA in virulence of F. tularensis subsp. tularensis.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, United States of America.


The lipoprotein encoded by the Francisella tularensis subsp. tularensis locus FTT1103 is essential for virulence; an FTT1103 deletion mutant is defective in uptake and intracellular survival, and mice survive high dose challenges of greater than 10(8) bacteria. This protein has two conserved domains; one is found in a class of virulence proteins called macrophage infectivity potentiator (Mip) proteins, and the other in oxidoreductase Disulfide Bond formation protein A (DsbA)-related proteins. We have designated the protein encoded by FTT1103 as FipB for Francisellainfectivity potentiator protein B. The locus FTT1102 (fipA), which is upstream of fipB, also has similarity to same conserved Mip domain. Deletion and site-specific mutants of fipA and fipB were constructed in the Schu S4 strain, and characterized with respect to intracellular replication and in vivo virulence. A nonpolar fipA mutant demonstrated reduced survival in host cells, but was only slightly attenuated in vivo. Although FipB protein was present in a fipA mutant, the abundance of the three isoforms of FipB was altered, suggesting that FipA has a role in post-translational modification of FipB. Similar to many DsbA homologues, FipB contains a cysteine-any amino acid-any amino acid-cysteine (CXXC) motif. This motif was found to be important for FipB's role in virulence; a deletion mutant complemented with a gene encoding a FipB protein in which the first cysteine was changed to an alanine residue (AXXC) failed to restore intracellular survival or in vivo virulence. Complementation with a gene that encoded a CXXA containing FipB protein was significantly defective in intracellular growth; however, only slightly attenuated in vivo.

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