Open Access Open Badges Research article

ATP-binding cassette systems in Burkholderia pseudomallei and Burkholderia mallei

David N Harland1, Elie Dassa2, Richard W Titball13, Katherine A Brown4* and Helen S Atkins1

Author Affiliations

1 Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, Porton Down, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP4 0JQ, UK

2 Départment de Microbiologie Fondamentale et Médicale, Institut Pasteur, Paris Cedex 15, France

3 Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, WC1E 7HT, UK

4 Division of Cell and Molecular Biology, CMMI, Flowers Building, Imperial College London, London SW7 2AZ, UK

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BMC Genomics 2007, 8:83  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-8-83

Published: 28 March 2007



ATP binding cassette (ABC) systems are responsible for the import and export of a wide variety of molecules across cell membranes and comprise one of largest protein superfamilies found in prokarya, eukarya and archea. ABC systems play important roles in bacterial lifestyle, virulence and survival. In this study, an inventory of the ABC systems of Burkholderia pseudomallei strain K96243 and Burkholderia mallei strain ATCC 23344 has been compiled using bioinformatic techniques.


The ABC systems in the genomes of B. pseudomallei and B. mallei have been reannotated and subsequently compared. Differences in the number and types of encoded ABC systems in belonging to these organisms have been identified. For example, ABC systems involved in iron acquisition appear to be correlated with differences in genome size and lifestyles between these two closely related organisms.


The availability of complete inventories of the ABC systems in B. pseudomallei and B. mallei has enabled a more detailed comparison of the encoded proteins in this family. This has resulted in the identification of ABC systems which may play key roles in the different lifestyles and pathogenic properties of these two bacteria. This information has the potential to be exploited for improved clinical identification of these organisms as well as in the development of new vaccines and therapeutics targeted against the diseases caused by these organisms.