The Brucella abortus virB locus contains 12 open reading frames, termed virB1 through virB12, which encode a type IV secretion system. Polar mutations in the virB locus markedly reduce the ability of B. abortus to survive in cultured macrophages or to persist in organs of mice. While a nonpolar deletion of the virB2 gene reduces survival in cultured macrophages and in organs of mice, a nonpolar deletion of virB1 only reduces survival in macrophages, whereas virB12 is dispensable for either virulence trait. Here we investigated the role of the remaining genes in the virB locus during survival in macrophages and virulence in mice. Mutants carrying nonpolar deletions of the virB3, virB4, virBS, virB6, virB7, virB8, virB9, virB10, or virB11 gene were constructed and characterized. All mutations reduced the ability of B. abortus to survive in J774A.1 mouse macrophage-like cells to a degree similar to that caused by a deletion of the entire virB locus. Deletion of virB3, virB4, virB5, virB6, virB8, virB9, virB10, or virB11 markedly reduced the ability of B. abortus to persist in the spleens of mice at 8 weeks after infection. Interestingly, deletion of virB7 did not reduce the ability of B. abortus to persist in spleens of mice. We conclude that virB2, virB3, virB4, virB5, virB6, virB8, virB9, virB10, and virB11 are essential for virulence of B. abortus in mice, while functions encoded by the virB1, virB7, and virB12 genes are not required for persistence in organs with this animal model.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology