Characterization and virulence analysis of catalase mutants of Haemophilus influenzae

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41 Scopus citations


In addition to detoxifying peroxides generated by aerobic metabolism, the catalases of pathogenic bacteria have also been hypothesized to serve as virulence factors by enabling microorganisms to resist the oxidative bursts of host inflammatory cells. Using transposon mutagenesis of the hktE gene, encoding the Haemophilus influenzae structural gene for catalase, we constructed defined catalase mutants of H. influenzae strains Rd- and Eagan b+. These mutants show no detectable catalase production during exponential or stationary phases or following induction with hydrogen peroxide or ascorbic acid, indicating that hktE is the only functional hydroperoxidase gene present in these two strains of H. influenzae. Exponential-phase cultures of hktE mutants are 8- to 25-fold more sensitive to hydrogen peroxide than the wild type. Using the infant rat model, hktE mutants of strain Eagan b+ were 2.3-fold less virulent than the wild type following intraperitoneal inoculation (P = 0.07). When administered intranasally, the Eagan b+ hktE mutant produced wild-type levels of bacteremia and nasal colonization. The results of this study show that while the H. influenzae hktE gene is important for survival in the presence of peroxides, deletion of the gene produces only a modest reduction in ability to cause lethal sepsis following parenteral challenge and no change in ability to colonize following intranasal inoculation in the infant rat model of infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4855-4860
Number of pages6
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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