Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Effects of the Campylobacter jejuni CJIE1 prophage homologs on adherence and invasion in culture, patient symptoms, and source of infection

Clifford G Clark12*, Christopher CR Grant1, Frank Pollari3, Barbara Marshall33, Jason Moses1, Dobryan M Tracz1 and Matthew W Gilmour12

Author affiliations

1 National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada, 1015 Arlington Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3E 3R2, Canada

2 Department of Medical Microbiology, Room 543 – 745 Bannatyne Avenue, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3E 0J9, Canada

3 Surveillance Division, Centre for Foodborne, Environmental, and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Public Health Agency of Canada, 255 Woodlawn Road West, Unit 120, Guelph, Ontario, N1H 8J1, Canada

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Citation and License

BMC Microbiology 2012, 12:269  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-12-269

Published: 20 November 2012



Prophages of enteric bacteria are frequently of key importance for the biology, virulence, or host adaptation of their host. Some C. jejuni isolates carry homologs of the CJIE1 (CMLP 1) prophage that carry cargo genes potentially involved in virulence. Possible role(s) of CJIE1 homologs in the biology and virulence of C. jejuni were therefore investigated by using in vitro cell culture assays and by assessing the association of C. jejuni isolates with and without these prophages with patients’ symptoms, with source, and with clonal lineages within the C. jejuni population.


Four C. jejuni isolates, three carrying the CJIE1-like prophage and one without, were tested in cell culture assays for adherence and invasion. Both adherence and invasion of C. jejuni to cells in culture were increased by the presence of the CJIE1-family prophage. Differences in motility and growth rate did not appear to be responsible. The CJIE1 prophage was present in 23% of isolates from human and non-human sources combined that were obtained through sentinel-site surveillance, and the distribution of CJIE1 in this population showed modest clonal associations. There was no correlation between the presence of the CJIE1 prophage in C. jejuni and patient symptoms, although there was some statistical support for lower rates of abdominal pain and fever when the prophage was present. Little evidence was found for a role of the prophage in host adaptation or host specificity.


These biological effects suggest that the presence of the prophage may be a marker for differential virulence of some C. jejuni isolates. Ongoing research into the effects of the prophage on protein expression may provide additional insights into the roles the prophage may play in the biology of its host bacterium.

C. jejuni; Prophage; Adherence; Invasion; Patient symptoms; Source of infection