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Campylobacter fetus subspecies: Comparative genomics and prediction of potential virulence targets


The genus Campylobacter contains pathogens causing a wide range of diseases, targeting both humans and animals. Among them, the Campylobacter fetus subspecies fetus and venerealis deserve special attention, as they are the etiological agents of human bacterial gastroenteritis and bovine genital campylobacteriosis, respectively. We compare the whole genomes of both subspecies to get insights into genomic architecture, phylogenetic relationships, genome conservation and core virulence factors. Pan-genomic approach was applied to identify the core- and pan-genome for both C. fetus subspecies and members of the genus. The C. fetus subspecies conserved (76%) proteome were then analyzed for their subcellular localization and protein functions in biological processes. Furthermore, with pathogenomic strategies, unique candidate regions in the genomes and several potential core-virulence factors were identified. The potential candidate factors identified for attenuation and/or subunit vaccine development against C. fetus subspecies contain: nucleoside diphosphate kinase (Ndk), type IV secretion systems (T4SS), outer membrane proteins (OMP), substrate binding proteins CjaA and CjaC, surface array proteins, sap gene, and cytolethal distending toxin (CDT). Significantly, many of those genes were found in genomic regions with signals of horizontal gene transfer and, therefore, predicted as putative pathogenicity islands. We found CRISPR loci and dam genes in an island specific for C. fetus subsp. fetus, and T4SS and sap genes in an island specific for C. fetus subsp. venerealis. The genomic variations and potential core and unique virulence factors characterized in this study would lead to better insight into the species virulence and to more efficient use of the candidates for antibiotic, drug and vaccine development.

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