Plasticity of fimbrial genotype and serotype within populations of Bordetella pertussis: Analysis by paired flow cytometry and genome sequencing

Thomas E. Vaughan, Catherine B. Pratt, Katie Sealey, Andrew Preston, Norman Fry, Andrew Gorringe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The fimbriae of Bordetella pertussis are required for colonization of the human respiratory tract. Two serologically distinct fimbrial subunits, Fim2 and Fim3, considered important vaccine components for many years, are included in the Sanofi Pasteur 5-component acellular pertussis vaccine, and the World Health Organization recommends the inclusion of strains expressing both fimbrial serotypes in whole-cell pertussis vaccines. Each of the fimbrial major subunit genes, fim2, fim3, and fimX, has a promoter poly(C) tract upstream of its "10 box. Such monotonic DNA elements are susceptible to changes in length via slipped-strand mispairing in vitro and in vivo, which potentially causes on/off switching of genes at every cell division. Here, we have described intra-culture variability in poly(C) tract lengths and the resulting fimbrial phenotypes in 22 recent UK B. pertussis isolates. Owing to the highly plastic nature of fimbrial promoters, we used the same cultures for both genome sequencing and flow cytometry. Individual cultures of B. pertussis contained multiple fimbrial serotypes and multiple different fimbrial promoter poly(C) tract lengths, which supports earlier serological evidence that B. pertussis expresses both serotypes during infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2030-2044
Number of pages15
JournalMicrobiology
Volume160
Issue numberPART 9
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014

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