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EMBO J. 1993 Oct;12(10):3779-87.

Cognate gene clusters govern invasion of host epithelial cells by Salmonella typhimurium and Shigella flexneri.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO 63110.


The enteric pathogens Salmonella typhimurium and Shigella flexneri differ in most virulence attributes including infectivity, pathology and host range. We have identified a new assemblage of genes responsible for invasion properties of Salmonella which is remarkably similar in order, arrangement and sequence to the gene cluster controlling the presentation of surface antigens (spa) on the virulence plasmid of Shigella. In Salmonella, this chromosomally encoded complex consists of over 12 genes, mutations in which abolish bacterial entry into epithelial cells. Although these genera use distinct invasion antigens, a non-invasive spa mutant of Salmonella could be rescued by the corresponding Shigella homolog. While spa promotes equivalent functions in Shigella and Salmonella, this constellation of genes has been acquired independently by each genus and displays motifs used by diverse antigen export systems including those required for flagellar assembly and protein secretion.

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