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Campylobacter jejuni: a brief overview on pathogenicity-associated factors and disease-mediating mechanisms.

Campylobacter jejuni has long been recognized as a cause of bacterial food-borne illness, and surprisingly, it remains the most prevalent bacterial food-borne pathogen in the industrial world to date. Natural reservoirs for this Gram-negative, spiral-shaped bacterium are wild birds, whose intestines offer a suitable biological niche for the survival and dissemination of C. jejuni Chickens become colonized shortly after birth and are the most important source for human infection. In the last decade, effective intervention strategies to limit infections caused by this elusive pathogen were hindered mainly because of a paucity in understanding the virulence mechanisms of C. jejuni and in part, unavailability of an adequate animal model for the disease. However, recent developments in deciphering molecular mechanisms of virulence of C. jejuni made it clear that C. jejuni is a unique pathogen, being able to execute N-linked glycosylation of more than 30 proteins related to colonization, adherence, and invasion. Moreover, the flagellum is not only depicted to facilitate motility but as well secretion of Campylobacter invasive antigens (Cia). The only toxin of C. jejuni, the so-called cytolethal distending toxin (CdtA,B,C), seems to be important for cell cycle control and induction of host cell apoptosis and has been recognized as a major pathogenicity-associated factor. In contrast to other diarrhoea-causing bacteria, no other classical virulence factors have yet been identified in C. jejuni. Instead, host factors seem to play a major role for pathogenesis of campylobacteriosis of man. Indeed, several lines of evidence suggest exploitation of different adaptation strategies by this pathogen depending on its requirement, whether to establish itself in the natural avian reservoir or during the course of human infection.

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