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Campylobacter jejuni CsrA complements an Escherichia coli csrA mutation for the regulation of biofilm formation, motility and cellular morphology but not glycogen accumulation

Joshua A Fields and Stuart A Thompson*

Author Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Georgia Health Sciences University, 1120 15th Street, Augusta, GA, 30912, USA

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BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:233  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-233

Published: 11 October 2012



Although Campylobacter jejuni is consistently ranked as one of the leading causes of bacterial diarrhea worldwide, the mechanisms by which C. jejuni causes disease and how they are regulated have yet to be clearly defined. The global regulator, CsrA, has been well characterized in several bacterial genera and is known to regulate a number of independent pathways via a post transcriptional mechanism, but remains relatively uncharacterized in the genus Campylobacter. Previously, we reported data illustrating the requirement for CsrA in several virulence related phenotypes of C. jejuni strain 81–176, indicating that the Csr pathway is important for Campylobacter pathogenesis.


We compared the Escherichia coli and C. jejuni orthologs of CsrA and characterized the ability of the C. jejuni CsrA protein to functionally complement an E. coli csrA mutant. Phylogenetic comparison of E. coli CsrA to orthologs from several pathogenic bacteria demonstrated variability in C. jejuni CsrA relative to the known RNA binding domains of E. coli CsrA and in several amino acids reported to be involved in E. coli CsrA-mediated gene regulation. When expressed in an E. coli csrA mutant, C. jejuni CsrA succeeded in recovering defects in motility, biofilm formation, and cellular morphology; however, it failed to return excess glycogen accumulation to wild type levels.


These findings suggest that C. jejuni CsrA is capable of efficiently binding some E. coli CsrA binding sites, but not others, and provide insight into the biochemistry of C. jejuni CsrA.

Campylobacter; Escherichia; CsrA; Complementation; Glycogen; Motility; Biofilm; Morphology