Prevalence and distribution of the hmw and hia genes and the HMW and Hia adhesins among genetically diverse strains of nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae.
Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae is a common cause of human disease and initiates infection by colonizing the upper respiratory tract. In previous work we identified high-molecular-weight adhesins referred to as HMW1 and HMW2, expressed by nontypeable strain 12, and determined that most strains of nontypeable H. influenzae express one or two antigenically related proteins. More recently, we determined that some strains lack HMW1- and HMW2-like proteins and instead express an adhesin called Hia. In the present study, we determined the prevalence and distribution of the hmw and hia genes in a collection of 59 nontypeable strains previously characterized in terms of genetic relatedness. Based on Southern analysis, 47 strains contained sequences homologous to the hmw1 and hmw2 genes and nine strains contained homologs to hia. No strain harbored both hmw and hia, and three strains harbored neither. Although the hmw and hia genes failed to define distinct genetic divisions, the hmw-deficient strains formed small clusters or lineages within the larger population structure. Additional analysis established that the IS1016 insertion element was uniformly absent from strains containing hmw sequences but was present in two-thirds of the hmw-deficient strains. As IS1016 is associated with the capsule locus (cap) in most encapsulated strains of H. influenzae, we speculate that hmw-deficient nontypeable strains evolved more recently from an encapsulated ancestor.
St Geme, JW; Kumar, VV; Cutter, D; Barenkamp, SJ
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