Recent studies have shown that Salmonella typhimurium invades the M cells of Peyer's patches (PP) of the murine ileum. The slyA gene of S. typhimurium has also recently been reported to affect virulence of this pathogen in mice and survival in macrophages. We therefore compared the effect on PP tissue of four strains of S. typhimurium: a wild-type strain, two slyA insertion mutants, and a recombinant S. typhimurium derivative carrying multiple copies of slyA. Invasion assays performed 2 and 7 days after orogastric infection revealed significantly lower numbers of bacteria of the slyA mutants and of the SlyA-overproducing strain in PP than of the wild type. However, similar numbers of bacteria of all strains were still present in the lumen of the small intestine after these times. Invasion assays of PP tissue after 90-min ileal loop infection yielded comparable numbers of bacteria of all strains in PP. Transmission and scanning electron microscopy of PP tissue after ileal loop infection demonstrated that the two slyA mutants and the SlyA-overproducing strain were able to attach to, induce membrane ruffling of, and invade M cells in a way morphologically and quantitatively similar to that of the wild type. In contrast to the wild type, both slyA mutants and, to a lesser extent, the SlyA-overproducing strain were significantly impaired in their ability to destroy M cells and adjacent enterocytes. Taken together, these data suggest that slyA is involved in intracellular survival and M-cell cytotoxicity but not in the invasion process and that the amount of SlyA needs to be precisely balanced for virulence
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