Molecular characterization of phosphorylcholine expression on the lipooligosaccharide of Histophilus somni

Shaadi F. Elswaifi, Frank St. Michael, Avula Sreenivas, Andrew Cox, George M. Carman, Thomas J. Inzana

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Histophilus somni (Haemophilus somnus) is an important pathogen of cattle that is responsible for respiratory disease, septicemia, and systemic diseases such as thrombotic meningoencephalitis, myocarditis, and abortion. A variety of virulence factors have been identified in H. somni, including compositional and antigenic variation of the lipooligosaccharide (LOS). Phosphorylcholine (ChoP) has been identified as one of the components of H. somni LOS that undergoes antigenic variation. In this study, five genes (lic1ABCDHs and glpQ) with homology to genes responsible for ChoP expression in Haemophilus influenzae LOS were identified in the H. somni genome. An H. somni open reading frame (ORF) with homology to H. influenzae lic1A (lic1AHi) contained a variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR). However, whereas the tetranucleotide repeat 5′-CAAT-3′ is present in lic1AHi, the VNTR in H. somni lic1A (lic1AHs) consisted of 5′-AACC-3′. Due to the propensity of VNTR to vary during replication and cause the ORF to shift in and out of frame with the upstream start codon, the VNTR were deleted from lic1AHs to maintain the gene constitutively on. This construct was cloned into Escherichia coli, and functional enzyme assays confirmed that lic1AHs encoded a choline kinase, and that the VNTR were not required for expression of a functional gene product. Variation in the number of VNTR in lic1AHs correlated with antigenic variation of ChoP expression in H. somni strain 124P. However, antigenic variation of ChoP expression in strain 738 predominately occurred through variable extension/truncation of the LOS outer core. These results indicated that the lic1Hs genes controlled expression of ChoP on the LOS, but that in H. somni there are two potential mechanisms that account for antigenic variation of ChoP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)223-230
Number of pages8
JournalMicrobial Pathogenesis
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Infectious Diseases


  • Adherence
  • Antigenic and phase variation
  • Histophilus somni
  • Lipooligosaccharide
  • Phosphorylcholine


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