Brucella cytology Brucella genetics Genomic Island genetics Lipopolysaccharides metabolism
American Society for Microbiology
Mancilla M, Lopez-Goni I, Moriyon I, Zarraga AM. Genomic island 2 is an unstable genetic element contributing to Brucella lipopolysaccharide spontaneous smooth-to-rough dissociation. J Bacteriol 2010 Dec;192(24):6346-6351.
Brucella is a Gram-negative bacterium that causes a worldwide-distributed zoonosis. The genus includes smooth (S) and rough (R) species that differ in the presence or absence, respectively, of the O-polysaccharide of lipopolysaccharide. In S brucellae, the O-polysaccharide is a critical diagnostic antigen and a virulence determinant. However, S brucellae spontaneously dissociate into R forms, a problem in antigen and S vaccine production. Spontaneous R mutants of Brucella abortus, Brucella melitensis, and Brucella suis carried the chromosomal scar corresponding to genomic island 2 (GI-2) excision, an event causing the loss of the wboA and wboB O-polysaccharide genes, and the predicted excised circular intermediate was identified in B. abortus, B. melitensis, and B. suis cultures. Moreover, disruption of a putative phage integrase gene in B. abortus GI-2 caused a reduction in O-polysaccharide loss rates under conditions promoting S-R dissociation. However, spontaneous R mutants not carrying the GI-2 scar were also detected. These results demonstrate that the phage integrase-related GI-2 excision is a cause of S-R brucella dissociation and that other undescribed mechanisms must also be involved. In the R Brucella species, previous works have shown that Brucella ovis but not Brucella canis lacks GI-2, and a chromosomal scar identical to those in R mutants was observed. These results suggest that the phage integrase-promoted GI-2 excision played a role in B. ovis speciation and are consistent with other evidence, suggesting that this species and B. canis have emerged as two independent lineages.