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Food Microbiol. 2013 Jun;34(2):425-30. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2013 Jan 23.

A "successful allele" at Campylobacter jejuni contingency locus Cj0170 regulates motility; "successful alleles" at locus Cj0045 are strongly associated with mouse colonization.

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Essen Bioscience, 300 W. Morgan Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48818, USA.


Campylobacter jejuni is an important foodborne pathogen of humans and its primary reservoir is the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of chickens. Our previous studies demonstrated that phase variation to specific "successful alleles" at C. jejuni contingency loci Cj0045 (successful alleles carry 9G or 10G homopolymeric tracts) and Cj0170 (successful allele carries a 10G homopolymeric tract) in C. jejuni populations is strongly associated with colonization and enteritis in C57BL/6 IL-10 deficient mice. In the current study, we strengthened the association between locus Cj0170, Cj0045, and mouse colonization. We generated 8 independent strains derived from C. jejuni 11168 strain KanR4 that carried a Cj0170 gene disruption and these were all non motile. Two randomly chosen strains with the Cj0170 gene disruption (DM0170-2 and DM0170-6) were gavaged into mice. DM0170-2 and DM0170-6 failed to colonize mice while the control strain that carried a "successful"Cj0170 10G allele was motile and did colonize mice. In parallel studies, when we inoculated C. jejuni strain 33292 into mice, the "unsuccessful"Cj0045 11G allele experienced phase variation to "successful" 9G and 10G alleles in 2 independent experiments prior to d4 post inoculation in mice while the "successful" 9G allele in the control strain remained stable through d21 post inoculation or shifted to other successful alleles. These data confirm that locus Cj0170 regulates motility in C. jejuni strain KanR4 and is a virulence factor in the mouse model. The data also support a possible role of locus Cj0045 as a virulence factor in strain 33292 in infection of mice.

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