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Microb Pathog. 1989 Sep;7(3):225-35.

The molecular basis of pathogenicity in Haemophilus influenzae: comparative virulence of genetically-related capsular transformants and correlation with changes at the capsulation locus cap.

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Department of Medicine, Hôpital de zone Saint-Loup-Orbe, Pompaples, Switzerland.


Serotype b strains of Haemophilus influenzae are strikingly more highly associated with episodes of invasive, life-threatening infection in young children than are strains of other serotypes, but the role that the capsule itself plays in determining this virulence has not been dissected away from that of possibly linked virulence determinants such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Using DNA from clinical isolates of all six serotypes (a-f) and a genetically-defined capsule-deficient recipient strain Rb-: 02, we constructed a series of capsular transformants otherwise identical with respect to outer-membrane protein and LPS subtype, biotype, and electrotype. Cloned DNA was also used to create type a and b transformants isogenic outside the capsulation locus to provide the most rigorous test to determine whether capsule alone modulates pathogenicity. Capsular transformants showed the same spectrum of virulence in an infant rat bacteremia/meningitis assay as wild-type strains, thus implicating the capsule polysaccharide as an independent determinant of virulence. Experiments in intact and splenectomised rats identified a critical role for type b capsule in enabling organisms to evade splenic clearance.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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