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Infect Immun. 2007 Nov;75(11):5264-71. Epub 2007 Aug 20.

Contribution of the stg fimbrial operon of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi during interaction with human cells.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Montreal, C.P. 6128 Succursale Centre-Ville, Montréal, Québec, Canada H3C 3J7.


Salmonella serovars contain a wide variety of putative fimbrial systems that may contribute to colonization of specific niches. Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi is the etiologic agent of typhoid fever and is a pathogen specific to humans. In a previous study, we identified a gene, STY3920 (stgC), encoding the predicted usher of the stg fimbrial operon, that was expressed by serovar Typhi during infection of human macrophages. The stg genes are located in the glmS-pstS intergenic region in serovar Typhi and certain Escherichia coli strains, but they are absent in other S. enterica serovars. We cloned the stg fimbrial operon into a nonfimbriate E. coli K-12 strain and into S. enterica serovar Typhimurium. We demonstrated that the stg fimbrial operon contributed to increased adherence to human epithelial cells. Transcriptional fusion assays with serovar Typhi suggested that stg is preferentially expressed in minimal medium. Deletion of stg reduced adherence of serovar Typhi to epithelial cells. However, deletion of stg increased uptake of serovar Typhi by human macrophages, and overexpression of stg in serovar Typhi and serovar Typhimurium strains reduced phagocytosis by human macrophages. These strains survived inside macrophages as well as the wild-type parent. Although the stgC gene contains a premature stop codon that disrupts the expected open reading frame encoding the usher and is therefore considered a pseudogene, our results show that the stg operon may encode a functional fimbria. Thus, this serovar Typhi-specific fimbrial operon contributes to interactions with host cells, and further characterization is important for understanding the role of the stg fimbrial cluster in typhoid fever pathogenesis.

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