Flagellar expression in clinical isolates of non-typeableHaemophilus influenzae

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Abstract

Purpose.

Haemophilus influenzae is a commensal organism found in the upper respiratory tract of humans. When H. influenzae becomes a pathogen, these bacteria can move out of their commensal niche and cause multiple respiratory tract diseases such as otitis media, sinusitis, conjunctivitis and bronchitis in children, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in adults. However, H. influenzae is currently considered a non-flagellate bacterium.

Methodology and Results.

In this study, 90 clinical isolates of H. influenzae strains (typeable and non-typeable) showed different degrees of the swarm-motility phenotype in vitro.

Keys findings.

One of these strains, NTHi BUAP96, showed the highest motility rate and its flagella were revealed using transmission electron microscopy and Ryu staining. Moreover, the flagellar genes fliC and flgH exhibited high homology with those of Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae, Escherichia coli and Shigella flexneri. Furthermore, Western blot analysis, using anti-flagellin heterologous antibodies from E. coli, demonstrated cross-reaction with a protein present in NTHi BUAP96.

Conclusion.

This study provides, for the first time, information on flagellar expression in H. influenzae, representing an important finding related to its evolution and pathogenic potential.

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