Genomic correlates of extraintestinal infection are linked with changes in cell morphology in Campylobacter jejuni

Microb Genom. 2019 Feb;5(2):e000251. doi: 10.1099/mgen.0.000251. Epub 2019 Feb 19.


Campylobacter jejuni is the most common cause of bacterial diarrheal disease in the world. Clinical outcomes of infection can range from asymptomatic infection to life-threatening extraintestinal infections. This variability in outcomes for infected patients has raised questions as to whether genetic differences between C. jejuni isolates contribute to their likelihood of causing severe disease. In this study, we compare the genomes of ten C. jejuni isolates that were implicated in extraintestinal infections with reference gastrointestinal isolates, in order to identify unusual patterns of sequence variation associated with infection outcome. We identified a collection of genes that display a higher burden of uncommon mutations in invasive isolates compared with gastrointestinal close relatives, including some that have been previously linked to virulence and invasiveness in C. jejuni. Among the top genes identified were mreB and pgp1, which are both involved in determining cell shape. Electron microscopy confirmed morphological differences in isolates carrying unusual sequence variants of these genes, indicating a possible relationship between extraintestinal infection and changes in cell morphology.

Keywords: Campylobacter jejuni; bacteremia; random forest.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Campylobacter Infections / microbiology*
  • Campylobacter jejuni / classification
  • Campylobacter jejuni / genetics*
  • Campylobacter jejuni / pathogenicity
  • Campylobacter jejuni / ultrastructure*
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • New Zealand
  • Phenotype
  • Phylogeny
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Virulence / genetics