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J Bacteriol. 2011 Nov;193(22):6233-43. doi: 10.1128/JB.05473-11. Epub 2011 Sep 23.

Analysis of the LIV system of Campylobacter jejuni reveals alternative roles for LivJ and LivK in commensalism beyond branched-chain amino acid transport.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, 5323 Harry Hines Boulevard, Room NL 4.138A, Dallas, TX 75390-9048, USA.


Campylobacter jejuni is a leading cause of diarrheal disease in humans and an intestinal commensal in poultry and other agriculturally important animals. These zoonotic infections result in significant amounts of C. jejuni present in the food supply to contribute to disease in humans. We previously found that a transposon insertion in Cjj81176_1038, encoding a homolog of the Escherichia coli LivJ periplasmic binding protein of the leucine, isoleucine, and valine (LIV) branched-chain amino acid transport system, reduced the commensal colonization capacity of C. jejuni 81-176 in chicks. Cjj81176_1038 is the first gene of a six-gene locus that encodes homologous components of the E. coli LIV system. By analyzing mutants with in-frame deletions of individual genes or pairs of genes, we found that this system constitutes a LIV transport system in C. jejuni responsible for a high level of leucine acquisition and, to a lesser extent, isoleucine and valine acquisition. Despite each LIV protein being required for branched-chain amino acid transport, only the LivJ and LivK periplasmic binding proteins were required for wild-type levels of commensal colonization of chicks. All LIV permease and ATPase components were dispensable for in vivo growth. These results suggest that the biological functions of LivJ and LivK for colonization are more complex than previously hypothesized and extend beyond a role for binding and acquiring branched-chain amino acids during commensalism. In contrast to other studies indicating a requirement and utilization of other specific amino acids for colonization, acquisition of branched-chain amino acids does not appear to be a determinant for C. jejuni during commensalism.

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