Campylobacter jejuni constitutes the leading cause of bacterial gastroenteritis in the United States and a major cause of diarrhoea worldwide. Little is known about virulence mechanisms in this organism because of the scarcity of suitable genetic tools. We have developed an efficient system of in vitro transposon mutagenesis using a mariner-based transposon and purified mariner transposase. Through in vitro transposition of C. jejuni chromosomal DNA followed by natural transformation of the transposed DNA, large random transposon mutant libraries consisting of ≈16 000 individual mutants were generated. The first genetic screen of C. jejuni using a transposon-generated mutant library identified 28 mutants defective for flagellar motility, one of the few known virulence determinants of this pathogen. We developed a second genetic system, which allows for the construction of defined chromosomal deletions in C. jejuni, and demonstrated the requirement of σ 28 and σ 54 for motility. In addition, we show that σ 28 is involved in the transcription of flaA and that σ 54 is required for transcription of three other flagellar genes, flaB and flgDE. We also identified two previously uncharacterized genes required for motility encoding proteins that we call CetA and CetB, which mediate energy taxis responses. Through our analysis of the Cet proteins, we propose a unique mechanism for sensing energy levels and mediating energy taxis in C. jejuni.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology