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  • 1 Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Hungária krt. 21, 1143 Budapest, Hungary
  • | 2 University of Veterinary Medicine and Pharmacy, Košice, Slovakia
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Francisella tularensis is a Gram-negative bacterium, the causative agent of the zoonotic disease tularaemia. The bacterium has developed several extracellular and intracellular strategies to evade the hosts’ innate and adaptive immune responses. The aims of the study were to examine complement sensitivity of wild and attenuated F. tularensis ssp. holarctica strains in animal hosts of distinct sensitivity to the bacterium, to compare the complement-evading ability of wild strains of different phylogeographic background, and to examine the role of factor H in the host–pathogen interactions. Complement sensitivity assays were carried out on various F. tularensis ssp. holarctica wild strains and on the attenuated live vaccine strain (LVS) with sera of the highly sensitive house mouse (Mus musculus), the moderately sensitive European brown hare (Lepus europaeus) and the relatively resistant cattle (Bos taurus). Specific binding of complement regulator factor H to bacterial membrane proteins was examined by Western blot assays. All wild strains interacted with the hosts’ complement system and showed no significant differences in their survivability. The attenuated LVS was resistant to serum killing in mouse, but was lysed in the sera of hare and cattle. Direct binding of factor H to F. tularensis membrane proteins was not detected.

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