Infect Immun 2018 09 22;86(9). Epub 2018 Aug 22.
National Institute of Animal Health, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan
causes swine erysipelas, an infection characterized by acute septicemia or chronic endocarditis and polyarthritis. Among 17 serovars, determined based on heat-stable peptidoglycan antigens, serovars 1 and 2 are most commonly associated with the disease; however, the molecular basis for the association between these serovars and virulence is unknown. To search for the genetic region defining serovar 1a (Fujisawa) strain antigenicity, we examined the 15-kb chromosomal region encompassing a putative pathway for polysaccharide biosynthesis, which was previously identified in the Fujisawa strain. Six transposon mutants of Fujisawa strain possessing a mutation in this region lost antigenic reactivity with serovar 1a-specific rabbit serum. Sequence analysis of this region in wild-type strains of serovars 1a, 1b, and 2 and serovar N, which lacks serovar-specific antigens, revealed that gene organization was similar among the strains and that serovar 2 strains showed variation. Serovar N strains displayed the same gene organization as the serovar 1a, 1b, or 2 strain and possessed certain mutations in this region. In two of the analyzed serovar N strains, restoration of the mutations via complementation with sequences derived from serovar 1a and 2 strains recovered antigenic reactivity with 1a- and 2-specific rabbit serum, respectively. Several gene mutations in this region resulted in altered capsule expression and attenuation of virulence in mice. These results indicate a functional connection between the biosynthetic pathways for the capsular polysaccharide and peptidoglycan antigens used for serotyping, which may explain variation in virulence among strains of different serovars.