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Mol Microbiol. 1998 Feb;27(4):797-805.

Use of signature-tagged transposon mutagenesis to identify Vibrio cholerae genes critical for colonization.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


The pathogenesis of cholera begins with colonization of the host intestine by Vibrio cholerae. The toxin co-regulated pilus (TCP), a fimbrial structure produced by V. cholerae, is absolutely required for colonization (i.e. the persistence, survival and growth of V. cholerae in the upper intestinal milieu), but many other aspects of the colonization process are not well understood. In this study, we use signature-tagged transposon mutagenesis (STM) to conduct a screen for random insertion mutations that affect colonization in the suckling mouse model for cholera. Of approximately 1100 mutants screened, five mutants (approximately 0.5%) with transposon insertions in TCP biogenesis genes were isolated, validating the use of STM to identify attenuated mutants. Insertions in lipopolysaccharide, biotin and purine biosynthetic genes were also found to cause colonization defects. Similar results were observed for mutations in homologues of pta and ptfA, two genes involved in phosphate transfer. Finally, our screen identified several novel genes, disruption of which also caused colonization defects in the mouse model. These results demonstrate that STM is a powerful method for isolating colonization-defective mutants of V. cholerae.

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