Searching for Outer Membrane Proteins Typical of Serum-Sensitive and Serum-Resistant Phenotypes of Salmonella
Serum resistance is a crucial virulence factor for the development of systemic infections, including bacteraemia, by many pathogenic bacteria. Salmonella enterica serovar Choleraesuis is an important enteric pathogen that causes serious systemic infections in swine and humans. Here, it was found that, when introduced into Escherichia coli, a recombinant plasmid carrying the pagC gene from a plasmid-based genomic library of S. enterica serovar Choleraesuis conferred a high-level resistance to the bactericidal activity of pooled normal swine serum. The resistance was equal to the level conferred by rck, a gene encoding a 17 kDa outer-membrane protein which promotes the serum resistance phenotype in S. enterica serovar Typhimurium. Insertional mutagenesis of the cloned pagC gene generated a mutation that resulted in the loss of the serum resistance phenotype in E. coli. When this mutation was introduced into the chromosome of S. enterica serovar Choleraesuis by homology recombination with the wild-type allele, the resulting strain could not produce PagC, and it showed a decreased level of resistance to complement-mediated killing. The mutation could be restored by introduction of the intact pagC gene on a plasmid, but not by introduction of the point-mutated pagC gene. In addition, PagC was able to promote serum resistance in the S. enterica serovar Choleraesuis LPS mutant strain, which is highly sensitive to serum killing. Although PagC is not thought to confer serum resistance directly, these results strongly suggest that PagC is an important outer-membrane protein that plays an important role in the serum resistance of S. enterica serovar Choleraesuis.