Pregenomic comparative analysis between Bordetella bronchiseptica RB50 and Bordetella pertussis Tohama I in murine models of respiratory tract infection

Eric T. Harvill, Peggy A. Cotter, Jeff F. Miller

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82 Scopus citations


We describe here a side-by-side comparison of murine respiratory infection by Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella bronchiseptica strains whose genomes are currently being sequenced (Tohama I and RB50, respectively). B. pertussis and B. bronchiseptica are most appropriately classified as subspecies. Their high degree of genotypic and phenotypic relatedness facilitates comparative studies of pathogenesis. RB50 and Tohama I differ in their abilities to grow in the nose, trachea, and lungs of BALB/c mice and to induce apoptosis, lung pathology, and an antibody response. To focus on the interactions between the bacteria and particular aspects of the host immune response, we used mice with specific immune defects. Mice lacking B cells and T cells were highly susceptible to B. bronchiseptica and were killed by intranasal inoculation with doses as low as 500 CFU. These mice were not killed by B. pertussis, even when doses as high as 105 CFU were delivered to the lungs. B. bronchiseptica, which was highly resistant to naive serum in vitro, caused bacteremia in these immunodeficient mice, while B. pertussis, which was highly sensitive to naive serum, did not cause bacteremia. B. bronchiseptica was, however, killed by immune serum in vitro, and adoptive transfer of anti-Bordetella antibodies protected SCID-beige mice from B. bronchiseptica lethal infection. Neutropenic mice were similarly killed by B. bronchiseptica but not B. pertussis infection, suggesting neutrophils are critical to the early inflammatory response to the former but not the latter. B. bronchiseptica was dramatically more active than B. pertussis in mediating the lysis of J774 cells in vitro and in inducing apoptosis of inflammatory cells in mouse lungs. This side-by-side comparison describes phenotypic differences that may be correlated with genetic differences in the comparative analysis of the genomes of these two highly related organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6109-6118
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1999

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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