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Avian Dis. 2013 Mar;57(1):116-22.

Role of motAB in adherence and internalization in polarized Caco-2 cells and in cecal colonization of Campylobacter jejuni.

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  • 1Vaccine and Infectious Disease Organization-International Vaccine Centre, University of Saskatchewan, 120 Veterinary Road, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada S7N 5E3.


Campylobacter jejuni, a gram-negative motile bacterium commonly found in the chicken gastrointestinal tract, is one of the leading causes of bacterial gastroenteritis in humans worldwide. An intact and functional flagellum is important for C. jejuni virulence and colonization. To understand the role of C. jejuni motility in adherence and internalization in polarized Caco-2 cells and in cecal colonization of chickens we constructed a C. jejuni NCTC11168 V1 deltamotAB mutant. The motAB genes code for the flagellar motor, which enables the rotation of the flagellum. The nonmotile deltamotAB mutant expressed a full-length flagellum, which allowed us to differentiate between the roles of full-length flagella and motility in the ability of C. jejuni to colonize. To study the adherence and invasion abilities of the C. jejuni deltamotAB mutant we chose to use polarized Caco-2 cells, which are thought to be more representative of in vivo intestinal cell architecture and function. Although the C. jejuni deltamotAB mutant adhered significantly better than the wild type to the Caco-2 cells, we observed a significant reduction in the ability to invade the cells. In this study we obtained evidence that the flagellar rotation triggers C. jejuni invasion into polarized Caco-2 cells and we believe that C. jejuni is propelled into the cell with a drill-like rotation. The deltamotAB mutant was also tested for its colonization potential in a 1-day-old chicken model. The nonmotile C. jejuni deltamotAB mutant was not able to colonize any birds at days 3 and 7, suggesting that motility is essential for C. jejuni colonization.

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