Role in Virulence of a Brucella abortus Protein Exhibiting Lectin-Like Activity Academic Article uri icon


  • Brucella abortus is a facultative, intracellular zoonotic pathogen which can cause undulant fever in humans and abortions in cattle. A 14-kDa protein of B. abortus was previously identified to be immunogenic in animals infected with Brucella spp. In this study, we discovered that the 14-kDa protein possessed immunoglobulin binding and hemagglutination properties that appeared to be based on the protein's lectin-like properties. Hemagglutination inhibition experiments suggested that the 14-kDa protein has affinity towards mannose. Disruption of the gene encoding the 14-kDa protein in virulent B. abortus strain 2308 induced a rough-like phenotype with an altered smooth lipopolysaccharide (LPS) immunoblot profile and a significant reduction in the bacterium's ability to replicate in mouse spleens. However, the mutant strain was stably maintained in mouse spleens at 2.0 to 2.6 log(10) CFU/spleen from day 1 to week 6 after intraperitoneal inoculation with 4.65 log(10) CFU. In contrast to the case for the smooth virulent strain 2308, in the rough attenuated strain RB51 disruption of the 14-kDa protein's gene had no effect on the mouse clearance pattern. These findings indicate that the 14-kDa protein of B. abortus possesses lectin-like properties and is essential for the virulence of the species, probably because of its direct or indirect role in the synthesis of smooth LPS.

author list (cited authors)

  • Vemulapalli, T. H., Vemulapalli, R., Schurig, G. G., Boyle, S. M., & Sriranganathan, N.

citation count

  • 8

publication date

  • December 2005