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Infect Immun. 2004 May;72(5):2922-38.

Proteus mirabilis genes that contribute to pathogenesis of urinary tract infection: identification of 25 signature-tagged mutants attenuated at least 100-fold.

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Department of Microbiology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.


Proteus mirabilis, a common cause of urinary tract infections (UTI) in individuals with functional or structural abnormalities or with long-term catheterization, forms bladder and kidney stones as a consequence of urease-mediated urea hydrolysis. Known virulence factors, besides urease, are hemolysin, fimbriae, metalloproteases, and flagella. In this study we utilized the CBA mouse model of ascending UTI to evaluate the colonization of mutants of P. mirabilis HI4320 that were generated by signature-tagged mutagenesis. By performing primary screening of 2088 P. mirabilis transposon mutants, we identified 502 mutants that ranged from slightly attenuated to unrecoverable. Secondary screening of these mutants revealed that 114 transposon mutants were reproducibly attenuated. Cochallenge of 84 of these single mutants with the parent strain in the mouse model resulted in identification of 37 consistently out-competed P. mirabilis transposon mutants, 25 of which were out-competed >100-fold for colonization of the bladder and/or kidneys by the parent strain. We determined the sequence flanking the site of transposon insertion in 29 attenuated mutants and identified genes affecting motility, iron acquisition, transcriptional regulation, phosphate transport, urease activity, cell surface structure, and key metabolic pathways as requirements for P. mirabilis infection of the urinary tract. Two mutations localized to a approximately 42-kb plasmid present in the parent strain, suggesting that the plasmid is important for colonization. Isolation of disrupted genes encoding proteins with homologies to known bacterial virulence factors, especially the urease accessory protein UreF and the disulfide formation protein DsbA, showed that the CBA mouse model and mutant pools are a reliable source of attenuated mutants with mutations in virulence genes.

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