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Identification of a gene essential for piliation in Haemophilus influenzae type b with homology to the pilus assembly platform genes of gram-negative bacteria.

By W J Watson, J R Gilsdorf, M A Tucci, K W McCrea, L J Forney and C F Marrs


Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) pili are complex filamentous surface structures consisting predominantly of pilin protein subunits. The gene encoding the major pilin protein subunit of Hib adherence pili has been cloned and its nucleotide sequence has been determined. In order to identify specific accessory genes involved in pilus expression and assembly, we constructed isogenic Hib mutants containing insertional chromosomal mutations in the DNA flanking the pilin structural gene. These mutants were screened for pilin production, pilus expression, and hemagglutination. Pili and pilin production were assessed by immunoassays with polyclonal antisera specific for pilin and pili of Hib strain Eagan. Hemagglutination was semiquantitatively evaluated in a microtiter plate assay. Six Hib mutants produced proteins immunoreactive with antipilin antiserum but no longer produced structures reactive with antipilus antiserum. In addition, the mutants were unable to agglutinate human erythrocytes. Nucleotide sequence analysis localized the insertion sites in the six mutants to 2.5-kb open reading frame upstream of the pilin structural gene and immediately downstream of an Hib pilin chaperone gene. The amino acid sequence encoded by this open reading frame has significant homology to members of the pilus assembly platform protein family, including FhaA of Bordetella pertussis, MrkC of Klebsiella pneumoniae, and the Escherichia coli assembly platform proteins FimD and PapC. This open reading frame, designated hifC, appears to represent a gene essential to Hib pilus biogenesis that has genetic and functional similarity to the pilus platform assembly genes of other gram-negative rods

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1994
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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