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Unraveling Brucella Genomics and Pathogenesis in Immunocompromised IRF-1−/− Mice


Gary Splitter, Department of Animal Health and Biomedical Sciences, 1656 Linden Dr, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.



Brucellosis causes abortion in domestic animals and Malta fever in humans. Comparison of Brucella species genomes may reveal potential virulence mechanisms. Engineering bioluminescent Brucella would permit monitoring bacterial dissemination.

Method of study

Microarray of the B. melitensis genome allowed comparison of gene content from six Brucella species. Bioluminescent B. melitensis strains were developed using transposon mutagenesis permitting the study of pathogenic Brucella in mice. Monitoring bacterial dissemination as well as organ localization permits evaluating the role of genes and genomic islands in mutant bacteria.


Comparative genomic analysis revealed 217 ORFs altered in five Brucella species and were often found in islands. Bioluminescent bacteria disseminated from the injection site to liver, spleen, inguinal lymph nodes, testes and submanibular region.


Genomic islands contribute to Brucella pathogenicity. Biophotonic imaging suggests that Brucella dissemination in mice parallels acute and chronic infections of humans.

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