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      Putative mechanisms and biological role of coccoid form formation in Campylobacter jejuni

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          Abstract

          In certain conditions Campylobacter jejuni cells are capable of changing their cell shape from a typically spiral to a coccoid form (CF). By similarity to other bacteria, the latter was initially considered to be a viable but non-culturable form capable of survival in unfavourable conditions. However, subsequent studies with C. jejuni and closely related bacteria Helicobacter pylori suggested that CF represents a non-viable, degenerative form. Until now, the issue on whether the CF of C. jejuni is viable and infective is highly controversial. Despite some preliminary experiments on characterization of CF cells, neither biochemical mechanisms nor genetic determinants involved in C. jejuni cell shape changes have been characterized. In this review, we highlight known molecular mechanisms and genes involved in CF formation in other bacteria. Since orthologous genes are also present in C. jejuni, we suggest that CF formation in these bacteria is also a regulated and genetically determined process. A possible significance of CF in the lifestyle of this important bacterial pathogen is discussed.

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          Most cited references 109

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          The genome sequence of the food-borne pathogen Campylobacter jejuni reveals hypervariable sequences.

          Campylobacter jejuni, from the delta-epsilon group of proteobacteria, is a microaerophilic, Gram-negative, flagellate, spiral bacterium-properties it shares with the related gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori. It is the leading cause of bacterial food-borne diarrhoeal disease throughout the world. In addition, infection with C. jejuni is the most frequent antecedent to a form of neuromuscular paralysis known as Guillain-Barré syndrome. Here we report the genome sequence of C. jejuni NCTC11168. C. jejuni has a circular chromosome of 1,641,481 base pairs (30.6% G+C) which is predicted to encode 1,654 proteins and 54 stable RNA species. The genome is unusual in that there are virtually no insertion sequences or phage-associated sequences and very few repeat sequences. One of the most striking findings in the genome was the presence of hypervariable sequences. These short homopolymeric runs of nucleotides were commonly found in genes encoding the biosynthesis or modification of surface structures, or in closely linked genes of unknown function. The apparently high rate of variation of these homopolymeric tracts may be important in the survival strategy of C. jejuni.
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            The selective value of bacterial shape.

            Why do bacteria have shape? Is morphology valuable or just a trivial secondary characteristic? Why should bacteria have one shape instead of another? Three broad considerations suggest that bacterial shapes are not accidental but are biologically important: cells adopt uniform morphologies from among a wide variety of possibilities, some cells modify their shape as conditions demand, and morphology can be tracked through evolutionary lineages. All of these imply that shape is a selectable feature that aids survival. The aim of this review is to spell out the physical, environmental, and biological forces that favor different bacterial morphologies and which, therefore, contribute to natural selection. Specifically, cell shape is driven by eight general considerations: nutrient access, cell division and segregation, attachment to surfaces, passive dispersal, active motility, polar differentiation, the need to escape predators, and the advantages of cellular differentiation. Bacteria respond to these forces by performing a type of calculus, integrating over a number of environmental and behavioral factors to produce a size and shape that are optimal for the circumstances in which they live. Just as we are beginning to answer how bacteria create their shapes, it seems reasonable and essential that we expand our efforts to understand why they do so.
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              The viable but nonculturable state in bacteria.

              It had long been assumed that a bacterial cell was dead when it was no longer able to grow on routine culture media. We now know that this assumption is simplistic, and that there are many situations where a cell loses culturability but remains viable and potentially able to regrow. This mini-review defines what the "viable but nonculturable" (VBNC) state is, and illustrates the methods that can be used to show that a bacterial cell is in this physiological state. The diverse environmental factors which induce this state, and the variety of bacteria which have been shown to enter into the VBNC state, are listed. In recent years, a great amount of research has revealed what occurs in cells as they enter and exist in this state, and these studies are also detailed. The ability of cells to resuscitate from the VBNC state and return to an actively metabolizing and culturable form is described, as well as the ability of these cells to retain virulence. Finally, the question of why cells become nonculturable is addressed. It is hoped that this mini-review will encourage researchers to consider this survival state in their studies as an alternative to the conclusion that a lack of culturability indicates the cells they are examining are dead.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                1886
                122234
                European Journal of Microbiology and Immunology
                EuJMI
                Akadémiai Kiadó, co-published with Springer Science+Business Media B.V., Formerly Kluwer Academic Publishers B.V.
                2062-509X
                2062-8633
                1 March 2012
                : 2
                : 1
                : 41-49
                Affiliations
                [ 1 ] School of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing, Kingston University, Penrhyn Road, Kingston-upon Thames, KT1 2EE, UK
                Author notes
                [* ] +44 (0)20 8417 7405, +44 (0)20 8417 7497, a.karlyshev@ 123456kingston.ac.uk
                Article
                7
                10.1556/EuJMI.2.2012.1.7
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