Molecular characterization of a genomic region associated with virulence in Dichelobacter nodosus

M. E. Katz, R. A. Strugnell, J. I. Rood

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The major pathogen implicated in footrot, a highly contagious disease of sheep, is the strict anaerobe Dichelobacter nodosus (formerly Bacteroides nodosus). Sequence analysis of a 2,262-bp segment of the D. nodosus genome which is more prevalent in virulent isolates than in other isolates showed the presence of four open reading frames which appeared to have consensus transcriptional and translational start signals. These virulence-associated genes have been designated vapABCD. Two of the three copies of the vap region in the genome of the reference strain D. nodosus A198 were shown to carry all of the vap genes, whereas one copy contained only the vapD gene. The VapD protein was gel purified, shown to contain the predicted amino-terminal sequence, and used to raise rabbit antibodies. Western blots (immunoblots) showed that all of the D. nodosus strains tested that contained the vap region produced the VapD protein. The VapD protein had significant amino acid sequence identity with open reading frame 5 from the cryptic plasmid of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and the vapBC operon had sequence similarity with the trbH region of the Escherichia coli F plasmid. It is proposed that these gene regions evolved from the integration of a conjugative plasmid from another bacterial species into the D. nodosus chromosome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4586-4592
Number of pages7
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1992

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