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Mol Microbiol. 1996 Apr;20(1):151-64.

Identification of a Salmonella virulence gene required for formation of filamentous structures containing lysosomal membrane glycoproteins within epithelial cells.

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Biotechnology Laboratory, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.


Salmonella species are facultative intracellular pathogens that invade epithelial cells and reside within lysosomal membrane glycoprotein (lgp)-containing vacuoles. Coincident with the onset of bacterial replication inside these vacuoles, Salmonella induce the formation of stable lgp-containing filamentous structures that connect with the Salmonella-containing vacuoles. Salmonella typhimurium SL1344::Tn l0dCm mutant strains unable to induce these structures were isolated. All contained insertions within a novel Salmonella induced filament gene A (sifA). sifA is present only in Salmonella species and encodes a protein with a predicted molecular mass of 38 kDa and an apparent molecular mass of 35 kDa. sifA is flanked by 300 base pairs, and sifA and its flanking DNA show no homology to sequences in DNA databases. sifA is located within the potABCD operon, a housekeeping locus involved in periplasmic transport of polyamines. Fourteen-base-pair direct repeats mark the probable site of integration of sifA and its flanking DNA have a significantly reduced G+C content (41%) when compared with the potABCD operon (51%) and the Salmonella genome (52-54%). Deletion mutant strains in sifA or in the downstream potC were constructed. Delta sifA does not produce Salmonella-induced filaments in epithelial cells, and is attenuated in mice. Delta potC produces Salmonella-induced filaments in epithelial cells, and was fully virulent. Collectively, these results suggest that sifA arose by horizontal gene transfer into Salmonella and its product is involved in a virulence-associated intracellular phenotype related to Salmonella-induced filament formation.

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