A bovine macrophage screening system for identifying attenuated transposon mutants of Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis with vaccine potential

J Microbiol Methods. 2009 Apr;77(1):58-62. doi: 10.1016/j.mimet.2009.01.005. Epub 2009 Jan 15.


Johne's disease is a chronic granulomatous enteritis in ruminants caused by Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP). The disease is responsible for considerable economic losses in the livestock industry and in particular within the dairy sector. A more effective vaccine against Johne's disease would be of major benefit. In this study, we developed an efficient procedure for identifying mutants of MAP with reduced virulence that are potential live vaccine candidates against Johne's disease. A mariner transposon was used to create random insertional libraries in two different MAP strains (989 and k10), an effective cattle macrophage survival system was developed, and a total of 1890 insertion mutants were screened by using a 96-prong multi-blot replicator (frogger) system. Two of the transposon mutants with poor survival ability in macrophages were tested in mice. These strains were found to be attenuated in vivo, thereby validating the further use of this macrophage screening system to identify MAP mutants with potential as candidate vaccines against Johne's disease.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Vaccines / genetics*
  • Bacterial Vaccines / immunology
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / immunology*
  • Cattle Diseases / microbiology
  • Cattle Diseases / prevention & control
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microbial Viability
  • Mutagenesis, Insertional / methods*
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis / genetics*
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis / immunology
  • Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis / pathogenicity
  • Paratuberculosis / immunology*
  • Paratuberculosis / microbiology
  • Paratuberculosis / prevention & control
  • Virulence


  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • DNA Transposable Elements