Characterization of a two-gene locus from Bartonella bacilliformis associated with the ability to invade human erythrocytes

S. J. Mitchell, M. F. Minnick

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Bartonella bacilliformis, the agent of human Oroya fever, invades erythrocytes and causes a severe hemolytic anemia. The ability of two minimally invasive strains of Escherichia coli (DH5α and HB101) to invade human erythrocytes was enhanced 6- to 39-fold by transformation with pIAL1, a plasmid containing a 1,469-bp BamHI fragment from the B. bacilliformis chromosome. Invasiveness was confirmed by gentamicin protection and transmission electron microscopy. DNA hybridization analysis confirmed the presence of the locus in B. bacilliformis KC583 and KC584 and its absence in E. coli chromosomal DNA. Sequencing of the DNA insert of pIAL1 revealed tandem open reading frames of 510 and 558 bp, designated/ialA and ialB, respectively. Invasion assays with E. coli containing only an ialA or ialB recombinant suggest that both genes are necessary for invasiveness. The ialA gene is predicted to code for a polypeptide of 170 amino acids (20.1 kDa), and ialB is predicted to code for a polypeptide of 186 amino acids (19.9 kDa). In vitro transcription and translation of pIAL1 produced insert- specific protein bands with masses of approximately 21 and 20 kDa when analyzed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. Expression of ialA and ialB in E. coli maxicells produced proteins with masses of approximately 21 kDa (IalA) and 18 kDa (IalB). Maxicell and computer analyses suggest that IalB contains an N-terminal secretory signal sequence which is posttranslationally cleaved. Searches of various DNA and protein databases revealed that IalA contains an N-terminal region of 35 amino acids with a high degree of homology to an NTPase consensus domain. There is 63.6% sequence conservation between the IalB protein and the invasion-associated protein Ail of Yersinia enterocolitica.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1552-1562
Number of pages11
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1995


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