U.S. Department of Defense


Date of this Version



Infection and Immunity (2001), 69(9), p. 5619-5625. DOI: 10.1128/IAI.69.9.5619–5625.2001


In this study, we constructed an flhD (the master flagellar regulator gene) mutant of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium and compared the virulence of the strain to that of the wild-type strain in a series of assays that included the mouse model of typhoid fever, the mouse macrophage survival assay, an intestinal epithelial cell adherence and invasion assay, and the calf model of enterocolitis. We found that the flhD mutant was more virulent than its parent in the mouse and displayed slightly faster net growth between 4 and 24 h of infection in mouse macrophages. Conversely, the flhD mutant exhibited diminished invasiveness for human and mouse intestinal epithelial cells, as well as a reduced capacity to induce fluid secretion and evoke a polymorphonuclear leukocyte response in the calf ligated-loop assay. These findings, taken with the results from virulence assessment assays done on an fljB fliC mutant of serovar Typhimurium that does not produce flagellin but does synthesize the flagellar secretory apparatus, indicate that neither the presence of flagella (as previously reported) nor the synthesis of the flagellar export machinery are necessary for pathogenicity of the organism in the mouse. Conversely, the presence of flagella is required for the full invasive potential of the bacterium in tissue culture and for the influx of polymorphonuclear leukocytes in the calf intestine, while the flagellar secretory components are also necessary for the induction of maximum fluid secretion in that enterocolitis model. A corollary to this conclusion is that, as has previously been surmised but not demonstrated in a comparative investigation of the same mutant strains, the mouse systemic infection and macrophage assays measure aspects of virulence different from those of the tissue culture invasion assay, and the latter is more predictive of findings in the calf enterocolitis model.