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Infect Immun. 2000 Nov;68(11):6337-45.

Role of catalase in Campylobacter jejuni intracellular survival.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-4799, USA.


The ability of Campylobacter jejuni to penetrate normally nonphagocytic host cells is believed to be a key virulence determinant. Recently, kinetics of C. jejuni intracellular survival have been described and indicate that the bacterium can persist and multiply within epithelial cells and macrophages in vitro. Studies conducted by Pesci et al. indicate that superoxide dismutase contributes to intraepithelial cell survival, as isogenic sod mutants are 12-fold more sensitive to intracellular killing than wild-type strains. These findings suggest that bacterial factors that combat reactive oxygen species enable the organism to persist inside host cells. Experiments were conducted to determine the contribution of catalase to C. jejuni intracellular survival. Zymographic analysis indicated that C. jejuni expresses a single catalase enzyme. The gene encoding catalase (katA) was cloned via functional complementation, and an isogenic katA mutant strain was constructed. Kinetic studies indicate that catalase provides resistance to hydrogen peroxide in vitro but does not play a role in intraepithelial cell survival. Catalase does however contribute to intramacrophage survival. Kinetic studies of C. jejuni growth in murine and porcine peritoneal macrophages demonstrated extensive killing of both wild-type and katA mutant strains shortly following internalization. Long-term cultures (72 h postinfection) of infected phagocytes permitted recovery of viable wild-type C. jejuni; in contrast, no viable katA mutant bacteria were recovered. Accordingly, inhibition of macrophage nitric oxide synthase or NADPH oxidase permitted recovery of katA mutant C. jejuni. These observations indicate that catalase is essential for C. jejuni intramacrophage persistence and growth and suggest a novel mechanism of intracellular survival.

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