Streptococcus uberis, strain 0140J, contains a single copy sortase A (srtA), encoding a transamidase capable of covalently anchoring specific proteins to peptidoglycan. Unlike the wild-type, an isogenic mutant carrying an inactivating ISS1 insertion within srtA was only able to infect the bovine mammary gland in a transient fashion. For the first 24 hours post challenge, the srtA mutant colonised at a similar rate and number to the wild type strain, but unlike the wild type did not subsequently colonise in higher numbers. Similar levels of host cell infiltration were detected in response to infection with both strains, but only in those mammary quarters infected with the wild type strain were clinical signs of disease evident. Mutants that failed to express individual sortase substrate proteins (sub0135, sub0145, sub0207, sub0241, sub0826, sub0888, sub1095, sub1154, sub1370, and sub1730) were isolated and their virulence determined in the same challenge model. This revealed that mutants lacking sub0145, sub1095 and sub1154 were attenuated in cattle. These data demonstrate that a number of sortase anchored proteins each play a distinct, non-redundant and important role in pathogenesis of S. uberis infection within the lactating bovine mammary gland.

James A. Leigh, Sharon A. Egan, Philip N. Ward, Terrence R. Field and Tracey J. Coffey

Received: 16 March 2010
Accepted: 2 June 2010

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