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Trends Microbiol. 2010 Feb;18(2):90-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2009.11.006. Epub 2009 Dec 23.

A genomic window into the virulence of Histophilus somni.

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Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.


Histophilus somni is an obligate inhabitant of the respiratory and genital mucosal surfaces of bovines and ovines. An individual strain can be a primary pathogen, an opportunistic pathogen, or a commensal, but can also move between these classifications if introduced into an appropriate site (e.g. the lungs) under conditions that favor bacterial persistence. H. somni is one of the bacterial agents responsible for bovine respiratory disease complex and can also cause a variety of systemic diseases in cattle and sheep. Isolates from disease sites, such as the lungs, heart, and brain, express a wide array of virulence factors (including biofilm formation) designed to evade host defense mechanisms. By contrast, some isolates from the healthy genital tract often lack many of these virulence factors. The genomic sequences of two bovine isolates, one from pneumonic lung and the other from healthy prepuce, have aided in deciphering the differences in phenotype and virulence between the two strains, and reveal their striking genetic similarity to Haemophilus influenzae and other members of the Pasteurellaceae.

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