Rough mutants of Brucella abortus were generated by disruption of wbkC gene which encodes the formyltransferase enzyme involved in LPS biosynthesis. In bone marrow-derived macrophages the B. abortusDeltawbkC mutants were attenuated, could not reach a replicative niche and induced higher levels of IL-12 and TNF-alpha when compared to parental smooth strains. Additionally, mutants exhibited attenuation in vivo in C57BL/6 and interferon regulatory factor-1 knockout mice. DeltawbkC mutant strains induced lower protective immunity in C56BL/6 than smooth vaccine S19 but similar to rough vaccine RB51. Finally, we demonstrated that Brucella wbkC is critical for LPS biosynthesis and full bacterial virulence.
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