Z66 antigen-positive strains of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi change flagellin expression in only one direction from the z66 antigen to the d or j antigen, which is different from the phase variation of S. enterica serovar Typhimurium. In the present study, we identified a new flagellin gene in z66 antigen-positive strains of S. enterica serovar Typhi. The genomic structure of the region containing this new flagellin gene was similar to that of fljBA operon of biphasic S. enterica serovars. A fljA-like gene was present downstream of the new flagellin gene. A rho-independent terminator was located between the new flagellin gene and the fljA-like gene. Hin-like gene was not present upstream of the new flagellin gene. We generated a mutant strain of S. enterica serovar Typhi, which carries a deletion of the new flagellin gene. Western blotting revealed that the 51-kDa z66 antigen protein was absent from the population of proteins secreted by the mutant strain. Southern hybridization demonstrated that the z66 antigen-positive strains of S. enterica serovar Typhi carried the new flagellin gene and fliC on two different genomic EcoRI fragments. When z66 antigen-positive strains were incubated with anti-z66 antiserum, the flagellin expression by S. enterica serovar Typhi changed from z66 antigen to j antigen. The new flagellin gene and the fljA-like gene were absent in the strain with altered flagellin expression. These results suggested that the new flagellin gene is a fljB-like gene, which encodes the z66 antigen of S. enterica serovar Typhi, and that deletion of fljBA-like operon may explain why S. enterica serovar Typhi alters the flagellin expression in only one direction from the z66 antigen to the d or j antigen.
Copyright 2004 Federation of European Microbiological Societies