Background: Campylobacter jejuni is a gastrointestinal pathogen of humans, but part of the normal flora of poultry, and therefore grows well at the respective body temperatures of 37 degrees C and 42 degrees C. Proteomic studies on temperature regulation in C. jejuni strain 81-176 revealed the upregulation at 37 degrees C of Cj0596, a predicted periplasmic chaperone that is similar to proteins involved in outer membrane protein folding and virulence in other bacteria.
Results: The cj0596 gene was highly conserved in 24 strains and species of Campylobacter, implying the importance of this gene. To study the role that Cj0596 plays in C. jejuni pathogenesis, a mutant derivative of strain 81-176 was constructed in which the cj0596 gene was precisely deleted. A revertant of this mutant was isolated by restoring the gene to its original chromosomal location using streptomycin counterselection. The cj0596 mutant strain demonstrated a slightly decreased growth rate and lower final growth yield, yet was more motile and more invasive of human intestinal epithelial cells than wild-type. In either single or mixed infections, the mutant was less able to colonize mice than 81-176. The cj0596 mutant also expressed altered levels of several proteins.
Conclusion: Mutation of cj0596 has an effect on phenotypes related to C. jejuni pathogenesis, probably due to its role in the proper folding of critical outer membrane proteins.