An avirulent Burkholderia pseudomallei ∆purM strain with atypical type B LPS: expansion of the toolkit for biosafe studies of melioidosis

Michael H. Norris, Md Siddiqur Rahman Khan, Herbert P. Schweizer, Apichai Tuanyok

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: The work was undertaken to expand the tools available for researching Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bp), the etiological agent of the tropical disease melioidosis. Melioidosis has the potential to pose a severe threat to public health and safety. In the United States, Bp is listed as a Tier-1 select agent by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), thus requiring high levels of regulation and biosafety level 3 (BSL3) facilities for experimental manipulation of live organisms. An avirulent ∆purM derivative of strain 1026b (Bp82) has proven to be a valuable tool for biosafe research as a select-agent excluded strain, but the high level of genetic diversity between Bp strains necessitates an expansion of the biosafe toolset. Results: The ∆purM mutation was recapitulated in the Bp 576a strain, a serotype B background. An important difference between strains 1026b and 576a is the lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a major virulence factor and protective antigen. Polyclonal sera from 1026b-challenged non-human primates showed no cross reactivity with strain 576a LPS and low reactivity with whole cell lysate. Strain 576a replicates to higher levels in mouse organs and induces more TNF-α in the lungs of BALB/c mice compared to 1026b. The newly created Bp 576a ∆purM strain, designated 576mn, was auxotrophic for adenine in minimal media, capable of wild-type growth in rich media with addition of adenine, and auxotrophy was abrogated with single-copy complementation. Bp 576mn was unable to replicate in human cells and was avirulent in BALB/c mice following high-dose intranasal inoculation, similar to Bp82. Organ loads indicated a significant reduction in bacterial replication. Conclusions: In this work, the new biosafe strain 576mn with atypical type B LPS was generated. This strain should prove a valuable addition to the toolkit for biosafe studies of Bp and development of therapeutic and preventative strategies aimed at combatting melioidosis. Strain 576mn is an ideal candidate for select-agent exclusion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number132
JournalBMC microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 7 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


Dive into the research topics of 'An avirulent Burkholderia pseudomallei ∆purM strain with atypical type B LPS: expansion of the toolkit for biosafe studies of melioidosis'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this