Evidence for horizontal gene transfer of two antigenically distinct O antigens in Bordetella bronchiseptica

Anne M. Buboltz, Tracy L. Nicholson, Alexia T. Karanikas, Andrew Preston, Eric T. Harvill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Host immunity is a major driving force of antigenic diversity, resulting in pathogens that can evade immunity induced by closely related strains. Here we show that two Bordetella bronchiseptica strains, RB50 and 1289, express two antigenically distinct O-antigen serotypes (O1 and O2, respectively). When 18 additional B. bronchiseptica strains were serotyped, all were found to express either the O1 or O2 serotype. Comparative genomic hybridization and PCR screening showed that the expression of either the O1 or O2 serotype correlated with the strain containing either the classical or alternative O-antigen locus, respectively. Multilocus sequence typing analysis of 49 B. bronchiseptica strains was used to build a phylogenetic tree, which revealed that the two O-antigen loci did not associate with a particular lineage, evidence that these loci are horizontally transferred between B. bronchiseptica strains. From experiments using mice vaccinated with purified lipopolysaccharide from strain RB50 (O1), 1289 (O2), or RB50Δwbm (O antigen deficient), our data indicate that these O antigens do not confer cross-protection in vivo. The lack of cross-immunity between O-antigen serotypes appears to contribute to inefficient antibody-mediated clearance between strains. Together, these data are consistent with the idea that the O-antigen loci of B. bronchiseptica are horizontally transferred between strains and encode antigenically distinct serotypes, resulting in inefficient cross-immunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3249-3257
Number of pages9
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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