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J Gen Microbiol. 1992 Feb;138(2):297-304.

The Vi antigen of Salmonella typhi: molecular analysis of the viaB locus.

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Institut Pasteur, Service des Entérobactéries, Unité INSERM, Paris, France.


Strains of Salmonella typhi isolated from the blood of patients with typhoid fever invariably express a capsular polysaccharide, termed the Vi antigen. Vi antigen expression is controlled by two separate chromosomal loci, viaA and viaB. The viaA locus is commonly found in enteric bacteria. In contrast, the viaB locus appears to be specific to Vi-expressing strains of Salmonella and Citrobacter. Here the cloning, expression and analysis of viaB determinants from S. typhi Ty2 is described. Whole-cell DNA from strain Ty2 was size-fractionated and cloned into the pLA2917 cosmid vector. A recombinant cosmid, pVT1, conferring a Vi-positive phenotype upon Escherichia coli and upon the Vi-non-expressing strain Ty21a of S. typhi, was characterized and used for further studies. Transposon Tn5 insertion mutagenesis demonstrated that the Vi-antigen-encoding region on pVT1 consisted of a 15 kb fragment. A subclone, designated pVT3, which contained an 18 kb insert, was sufficient to confer Vi antigen expression upon E. coli and S. typhi Ty21a. Results of recombination experiments indicated that this DNA sequence was the viaB locus of S. typhi Ty2. In E. coli SE5000 maxicells, the viaB determinants encoded at least eight polypeptides, with molecular masses of 80, 65, 59, 48, 44, 39, 35 and 28 kDa. Functional characterization of viaB mutations in S. typhi Ty2 suggested that the 80 and 65 kDa proteins were required for cell-surface localization of the Vi antigen.

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