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Free Content Bile-induced ‘pili’ in Campylobacter jejuni are bacteria-independent artifacts of the culture medium

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In 1996, it was reported that the enteric pathogen Campylobacter jejuni produces pilus-like appendages in response to bile salts such as deoxycholate (DOC), and that the formation of these appendages requires the putative peptidase PspA . Pili were known to be important virulence determinants in other pathogenic bacteria but had never before been observed for C. jejuni. We report here that these appendages are not pili, but are instead a bacteria-independent morphological artifact of the growth medium. Furthermore, the pspA gene is not required for their formation. Broth cultures containing a threshold concentration of DOC inoculated with no bacteria produced identical abundant, fibrous, pilus-like structures as those cultures that had been inoculated with C. jejuni. These fibres were also found in growth media from DOC-containing pspA::CmR mutant cultures. These results are consistent with the absence of candidate pilin monomers in protein gel analyses as well as the dearth of pilin-like genes and pilus formation gene clusters in the C. jejuni genome.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5124, USA.

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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