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Mol Microbiol. 2003 Feb;47(4):1101-11.

Identification and characterization of genomic loci unique to the Brazilian purpuric fever clonal group of H. influenzae biogroup aegyptius: functionality explored using meningococcal homology.

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Molecular Infectious Diseases Group, Department of Paediatrics, Faculty of Medicine, Imperial College London, Norfolk Place, London W2 1PG, UK.


Brazilian purpuric fever (BPF) is a fulminant septicaemic infection of young children, caused by a clonal group of strains of Haemophilus influenzae biogroup aegyptius (Hae), an organism previously solely associated with conjunctivitis. Their special capacity to invade from the initial site of conjunctival infection is unexplained. A polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-amplified subtractive hybridization technique was used to identify genes specific to the BPF clonal group. A copy of bacteriophage HP1 and 46 further chromosomal loci were identified in the BPF but not in the conjunctivitis strain of Hae. Sixteen were characterized further, and one - encoding an analogue of the Legionella pneumophila epithelial cell entry-enhancing protein EnhC - was investigated in depth. Two genes, bpf001 and bpf002, unique to the BPF clonal group were identified between homologues of HI1276 and HI1277 in a complex locus close to H. influenzae genetic island 1, recently identified in pathogenic H. influenzae type b. Bpf001 encodes a protein homologous to EnhC and to the previously uncharacterized product of the meningococcal gene NMB0419. Functional studies of bpf001 proving intractable, NMB0419 was chosen as a surrogate for investigation and shown to modulate bacterial interaction with monolayers of human respiratory epithelial cells, promoting invasion, the first stage (for Hae) in the pathogenesis of BPF.

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