Bordetella pertussisBinds Human C1 Esterase Inhibitor during the Virulent Phase, to Evade Complement-Mediated Killing

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C1 esterase inhibitor (C1inh) is a major inhibitor of several pathways of inflammation in humans. In this study, we show that virulent-phase cultures of Bordetella pertussis, the etiological agent for whooping cough, but not other Bordetella species specifically recruit C1inh from human serum. Using a spontaneous mutant of B. pertussis that was deficient in C1inh binding, we demonstrate that the ability of B. pertussis to acquire high levels of human C1inh and wild-type levels of serum resistance are well correlated, suggesting that, in addition to and independent of BrkA expression, acquisition of C1inh is vital to B. pertussis resistance to complement-mediated killing.

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