1887

Abstract

The molecular basis for leptospirosis infection and colonization remains poorly understood, with no efficient methods available for screening libraries of mutants for attenuation. We analysed the attenuation of leptospiral transposon mutants using a high-throughput method by infecting animals with pooled sets of transposon mutants. A total of 95 mutants was analysed by this method in the hamster model of acute infection, and one mutant was identified as attenuated (M1233, mutant). All virulence factors identified in to date have been characterized in the acute model of infection, neglecting the carrier host. To address this, a BALB/c mouse colonization model was established. The mutant and two mutants defective in LPS synthesis were colonization deficient in the mouse model. By applying the high-throughput screening method, a further five colonization-deficient mutants were identified for the mouse model; these included two mutants in genes encoding proteins with a predicted role in iron uptake (LB191/HbpA and LB194). Two attenuated mutants had transposon insertions in either or (encoding proteins of unknown function). The final attenuated mutant had an unexpected deletion of genes at the point of transposon insertion. This is the first description of defined, colonization-deficient mutants in a carrier host for . These mutants were either not attenuated or only weakly attenuated in the hamster model of acute leptospirosis, thus illustrating that different factors that may be required in the carrier and acute models of leptospiral infection. High-throughput screening can reduce the number of animals used in virulence studies and increase the capacity to screen mutants for attenuation, thereby enhancing the likelihood of detecting unique virulence factors. A comparison of virulence factors required in the carrier and acute models of infection will help to unravel colonization and dissemination mechanisms of leptospirosis.

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2013-10-01
2020-01-22
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