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Differential transcription of virulence genes in Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans serotypes

Abstract

Aggregatibacter actinomycetemcomitans serotypes are clearly associated with periodontitis or health, which suggests distinct strategies for survival within the host. We investigated the transcription profile of virulence associated genes in A. actinomycetemcomitans serotype b (JP2 and SUNY465) strains associated with disease and a (ATCC 29523) serotype associated with health. Bacteria were co-cultured with immortalized gingival epithelial cells (OBA-9). The adhesion efficiency after 2 hours and the relative transcription of 13 genes were evaluated after 2 and 24 hours of interaction. All strains were able to adhere to OBA-9 and this contact induced transcription of pgA for polysaccharide biosynthesis in all tested strains. Genes encoding virulence factors as Omp29, Omp100, leukotoxin and CagE (apoptotic protein) were more transcribed by serotype b strains than by serotype a. ltxA and omp29, encoding the leukotoxin and the highly antigenic Omp29, were induced in serotype b by interaction with epithelial cells. Factors related to colonization (aae, flp, apaH and pgA) and cdtB were up regulated in serotype a strain after prolonged interaction with OBA-9. Genes relevant for surface colonization and interaction with the immune system are regulated differently among the strains, which may help explaining their differences in association with disease. (AU)