Campylobacter jejuni is the primary food borne bacterial pathogen in the developed world causing millions of gastroenteritis cases each year. C. jejuni is a Gram negative, spiral-shaped, highly motile bacterium with very restricted growth requirements, and it appears to be adapted to the environment of the avian gastrointestinal tract. Consequently, the most important reservoir for C. jejuni is the gut of chickens, which are colonized efficiently without causing disease in the birds. Upon co-cultivation with mammalian cells, C. jejuni secrete specific Cia proteins, which are required for internalization into host cells. However, the pathogenic lifestyle of C. jejuni in the human intestine is different from the commensal colonization of the chicken gut, and it was therefore hypothesized that different proteins are secreted during chicken colonization. This hypothesis was tested by analyzing the synthesis of antigenic C. jejuni proteins upon cultivation with chicken cells. Two strains of C. jejuni (the human isolate NCTC11168 and the chicken isolate DVI-SC11) were incubated with primary intestinal chicken cells and subsequently used to raise antisera in rabbits. Negative controls were carried out in parallel. These antisera were tested by Western blotting against C. jejuni total protein as well as periplasmic-, surface- and extracellular protein fractions. A unique antibody reaction was discovered to a protein from samples, which had been cultivated with chicken cells. The identity of this protein will be determined and the function will be examined by construction of mutants, which will be investigated for colonization potential and environmental growth requirements.
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International Symposium on Microbial Adaptation to Stress and Environment, 2007