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The Molecular Characterization of Phosphorylcholine (ChoP) on Histophilus somni Lipooligosaccharide: Contribution of ChoP to Bacterial Virulence and Pathogenesis
Elswaifi, Shaadi Fouad
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Histophilus somni virulence factors include expression and antigenic variation of lipooligosaccharide (LOS). Phosphorylcholine (ChoP) is often expressed on H. somni LOS and also undergoes antigenic variation. In this study, five genes that play a role in expression and antigenic variation of ChoP, lic1ABCD and glpQ, were identified in the genome sequence of H. somni through sequence homology with Haemophilus influenzae genes. The open reading frame (ORF) of lic1A contained a variable number of tandem repeats of the tetranucleotide unit 5'-AACC-3'. Slipped strand mispairing in the repeat region during replication leads to shifting the downstream reading frame in and out of frame with the start codon, thus controlling phase variation of lic1A expression. Removal of the repeats from lic1A, cloning the gene in E. coli, and performing a functional assay on the product indicated that lic1A encodes a choline kinase and that the repeats were not required for expression of a functional gene product. Variation in the number of repeats in lic1A correlated with the antigenic variation of ChoP expression in strain 124P, but not in strain 738. This result supported previous findings that antigenic variation of ChoP expression in strain 738 is controlled through extension/truncation of the LOS outer core. Therefore, these results indicated that the lic1ABCD and glpQ genes control expression and antigenic variation of ChoP on the LOS of H. somni and that there are two possible mechanisms for ChoP antigenic variation. The role of H. somni expression of ChoP in colonization of the host respiratory tract was also examined. Experimental infection in the natural host showed that the population of H. somni that expresses ChoP was enriched in the bacteria that colonized the respiratory tract. In addition, bacteria expressing ChoP were able to aggregate bovine platelets through binding to the platelet activating factor receptor (PAF-R), which is also present on epithelial and endothelial cells. These results indicated that ChoP may play a role in the process of colonization and subsequent systemic invasion of host tissues, which may occur through binding of ChoP to PAF-R. Bacteria that did not express ChoP were more prevalent in systemic sites, indicating that ChoP expression may be disadvantageous for the organism during systemic dissemination.
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