Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi and Typhimurium are closely related serovars as indicated by >96% DNA sequence identity between shared genes. Nevertheless, S. Typhi is a strictly human-specific pathogen causing a systemic disease, typhoid fever. In contrast, S. Typhimurium is a broad host range pathogen causing only a self-limited gastroenteritis in immunocompetent humans. We hypothesize that these differences have arisen because some genes are unique to each serovar either gained by horizontal gene transfer or by the loss of gene activity due to mutation, such as pseudogenes. S. Typhi has 5% of genes as pseudogenes, much more than S. Typhimurium which contains 1%. As a consequence, S. Typhi lacks several protein effectors implicated in invasion, proliferation and/or translocation by the type III secretion system that are fully functional proteins in S. Typhimurium. SseJ, one of these effectors, corresponds to an acyltransferase/lipase that participates in SCV biogenesis in human epithelial cell lines and is needed for full virulence of S. Typhimurium. In S. Typhi, sseJ is a pseudogene. Therefore, we suggest that sseJ inactivation in S. Typhi has an important role in the development of the systemic infection.
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