Comparison of Biological Activities of BafA Family Autotransporters within Bartonella Species Derived from Cats and Rodents

Kayo Kumadaki, Natsumi Suzuki, Kaoru Tatematsu, Yohei Doi, Kentaro Tsukamoto

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Bartonella species are hemotropic, facultative intracellular bacteria, some of which cause zoonoses, that are widely disseminated among many mammals, including humans. During infection in humans, vascular endothelial cells play a crucial role as a replicative niche for Bartonella, and some are capable of promoting vascular proliferation. Along with well-studied pathogenic factors such as a trimeric autotransporter adhesin BadA or VirB/D4 type IV secretion system, bacteria-secreted protein BafA is also involved in Bartonella-induced vasoproliferation. Genes encoding BafA orthologs have been found in the genomes of most Bartonella species, but their functionality remains unclear. In this study, we focused on three cat-derived zoonotic species (B. henselae, B. koehlerae, and B. clarridgeiae) and two rodent-derived species (B. grahamii and B. doshiae) and compared the activity of BafA derived from each species. Recombinant BafA proteins of B. henselae, B. koehlerae, B. clarridgeiae, and B. grahamii, species that also cause human disease, induced cell proliferation and tube formation in cultured endothelial cells, while BafA derived from B. doshiae, a species that is rarely found in humans, showed neither activity. Additionally, treatment of cells with these BafA proteins increased phosphorylation of both vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 and extracellular signal-regulated kinase 1/2, with the exception of B. doshiae BafA. Differential bafA mRNA expression and BafA secretion among the species likely contributed to the differences in the cell proliferation phenotype of the bacteria-infected cells. These findings suggest that the biological activity of BafA may be involved in the infectivity or pathogenicity of Bartonella species in humans.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 03-2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Infectious Diseases


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