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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2008 Nov;74(22):6867-75. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01097-08. Epub 2008 Sep 19.

Identification of Campylobacter jejuni proteins recognized by maternal antibodies of chickens.

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School of Molecular Biosciences, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 99164-4234, USA.


Campylobacter jejuni is one of the leading bacterial causes of food-borne gastroenteritis. Infection with C. jejuni is frequently acquired through the consumption of undercooked poultry or foods cross-contaminated with raw poultry. Given the importance of poultry as a reservoir for Campylobacter organisms, investigators have performed studies to understand the protective role of maternal antibodies in the ecology of Campylobacter colonization of poultry. In a previous study, chicks with maternal antibodies generated against the S3B strain of C. jejuni provided protection against Campylobacter colonization (O. Sahin, N. Luo, S. Huang, and Q. Zhang, Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 69:5372-5379, 2003). We obtained serum samples, collectively referred to as the C. jejuni S3B-SPF sera, from the previous study. These sera were determined to contain maternal antibodies that reacted against C. jejuni whole-cell lysates as judged by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The antigens recognized by the C. jejuni S3B-SPF antibodies were identified by immunoblot analysis, coupled with mass spectrometry, of C. jejuni outer membrane protein extracts. This approach led to the identification of C. jejuni proteins recognized by the maternal antibodies, including the flagellin proteins and CadF adhesin. In vitro assays revealed that the C. jejuni S3B-SPF sera retarded the motility of the C. jejuni S3B homologous strain but did not retard the motility of a heterologous strain of C. jejuni (81-176). This finding provides a possible mechanism explaining why maternal antibodies confer enhanced protection against challenge with a homologous strain compared to a heterologous strain. Collectively, this study provides a list of C. jejuni proteins against which protective antibodies are generated in hens and passed to chicks.

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