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PLoS One. 2013 Jun 4;8(6):e65102. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065102. Print 2013.

Adaptability and persistence of the emerging pathogen Bordetella petrii.

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Laboratory of Clinical Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland, USA.


The first described, environmentally isolated, Bordetella petrii was shown to undergo massive genomic rearrangements in vitro. More recently, B. petrii was isolated from clinical samples associated with jaw, ear bone, cystic fibrosis and chronic pulmonary disease. However, the in vivo consequences of B. petrii genome plasticity and its pathogenicity remain obscure. B. petrii was identified from four sequential respiratory samples and a post-mortem spleen sample of a woman presenting with bronchiectasis and cavitary lung disease associated with nontuberculous mycobacterial infection. Strains were compared genetically, phenotypically and by antibody recognition from the patient and from inoculated mice. The successive B. petrii strains exhibited differences in growth, antibiotic susceptibility and recognition by the patient's antibodies. Antibodies from mice inoculated with these strains recapitulated the specificity and strain dependent response that was seen with the patient's serum. Finally, we characterize one strain that was poorly recognized by the patient's antibodies, due to a defect in the lipopolysaccharide O-antigen, and identify a mutation associated with this phenotype. We propose that B. petrii is remarkably adaptable in vivo, providing a possible connection between immune response and bacterial evasion and supporting infection persistence.

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