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Am J Med Sci. 1993 Nov;306(5):325-9.

Role of the S-layer proteins of Campylobacter fetus in serum-resistance and antigenic variation: a model of bacterial pathogenesis.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee 37232-2605.


Campylobacter fetus are microaerophilic gram-negative bacteria that are pathogens of animals and humans. These organisms possess paracrystalline surface (S-) layers, composed of acidic high molecular weight proteins. C. fetus strains possessing S-layers are resistant to C3b binding, which explains both serum and phagocytosis-resistance. C. fetus strains also can vary the subunit protein size, crystalline structure, and antigenicity of the S-layer it expresses. Therefore, its S-layer permits C. fetus to resist complement and antibodies, two of the key defenses against extracellular pathogens. C. fetus possesses several full-length genes encoding S-layer proteins with both conserved and divergent sequences, which permits gene rearrangement and antigenic variation.

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