The ability to bind the dye Congo red from agar medium is associated with virulence of Shigella species. DNA sequences conferring this property have been cloned from a large, 140-kilobase plasmid of Shigella flexneri into a plasmid vector. This recombinant plasmid does not fully restore virulence to S. flexneri isolates which have lost the large plasmid. This indicates that other genes present on the 140-kilobase plasmid must also be required for virulence of S. flexneri. The cloned fragment contains a copy of the insertion sequence IS1 closely linked to the gene for Congo red binding.
The possible requirement of a functional siderophore (vibriobactin)-mediated iron transport system in the pathogenicity of Vibrio cholerae was determined. Two mutants of V. cholerae defective in the iron-vibriobactin transport system were examined for their ability to multiply and elicit diarrhea in infant mice. One mutant, 40130, was unable to synthesize vibriobactin. The second mutant, 1510, was able to synthesize, but not transport, the siderophore. Both mutants retained the ability to multiply and produce disease in the infant mouse, and virulence was indistinguishable from the parent strains. This indicates that a functional iron-vibriobactin transport system is not essential for cholera pathogenesis. These mutants, like the wild-type strains, were found to have a ferric citrate iron uptake system and could utilize citrate or asparagine for growth in low-iron medium. Compounds of this type may increase the availability of iron to V. cholerae in the host.