A new serogroup of non-O1, designated as O139, has emerged causing cholera-like disease among adults. Laboratory and field studies clearly show that there is no cross-protection between O1 and O139 pathogenic strains. Since colonisation of the intestine is a most important step in the pathogenesis of cholera caused by O1 strains and colonising antigens are known to be protective, investigation of the colonising antigens of O139 strain was initiated. By TnA mutagenesis, mutants were generated with insertions in the genome encoding membrane spanning or secretory proteins. Screening of the mutants for adherence to rabbit intestinal surface and colonisation in 5-day-old mice resulted in the identification of mutant clones, which were less adhesive than was the wild-type parent strain and which could not efficiently colonise the gut. Such non-colonising strains were attenuated in virulence. Analysis of the proteins by SDS-PAGE revealed that the non-colonising mutants did not express a 40-kDa outer-membrane protein.


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