Distribution of the clpX gene in Brachyspira species and reactivity of recombinant Brachyspira pilosicoli ClpX with sera from mice and humans

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)930-936
Journal / PublicationJournal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number7
Online published1 Jul 2007
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2007
Externally publishedYes


Previously, a clpX gene encoding a predicted 67 kDa membrane-associated ATPase subunit of the Clp protease (ClpX) was identified in a porcine strain (95/1000) of the intestinal spirochaete Brachyspira pilosicoli. In the current study, the distribution of this large clpX gene was investigated in a collection of strains representing all seven Brachyspira spp. Using PCR with internal primers, an 878 bp portion of the gene was detected in 29 of 35 strains (83 %) of B. pilosicoli, 6 of 24 strains (25 %) of Brachyspira hyodysenteriae, 14 of 16 strains (88 %) of Brachyspira intermedia, 6 of 17 strains (35 %) of Brachyspira innocens, 1 of 6 strains (17 %) of Brachyspira murdochii, 1 of 2 strains (50 %) of Brachyspira aalborgi and not in the single strain of Brachyspira alvinipulli. The whole gene was sequenced from 20 Brachyspira spp. strains and compared with the clpX gene from B. pilosicoli 95/1000 (GenBank accession no. AY466377). The genes had 99.3–99.7 % nucleotide sequence similarity and the predicted products had 99.7–100 % amino acid sequence similarity. The clpX gene from WesB, a human strain of B. pilosicoli, was cloned and expressed as a histidine-tagged fusion protein in Escherichia coli BL21. The purified protein was used to vaccinate mice and their sera were found to recognize the expected ∼ 67 kDa protein in whole-cell preparations of WesB. Sera from mice vaccinated with formalin-treated whole-cell proteins of WesB reacted with the recombinant protein. These results indicate that ClpX is both conserved and immunogenic and hence might be useful as a subunit vaccine component for Brachyspira spp. infections. Sera from humans with no known exposure to B. pilosicoli reacted with the recombinant ClpX protein, indicating that it is unlikely to be useful as a reagent for serological detection of Brachyspira spp. infections.

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