The goals of this study were to evaluate the persistence and the virulence potential of Listeria monocytogenes isolated from beef carcasses obtained in processing facilities in the Southern region of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, based on pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE), invasion ability in human colorectal carcinoma cells (HCT-116), InlA expression by western blot (WB) and identification of mutation points in the inlA . PFGE profiles demonstrated that L. monocytogenes isolates were grouped based on their previously identified lineages and serogroups (lineage I: serogroups IIb, n = 2, and IVb, n = 5; lineage II, serogroup IIc, n = 5), isolates with indistinguishable genetic profiles by this method were obtained from different slaughterhouses and sampling steps, with up to 3-year interval. Seven isolates showed high invasion ability (2.4 to 7.4%, lineage I, n = 6, lineage II, n = 1) in HCT and expressed InlA. Five isolates showed low cell invasion ability (0.6 to 1.4%, lineage I, n = 1, lineage II, n = 4) and did not express InlA, and two of them (lineage II, serogroup IIc) presented mutations in inlA leading to a premature stop codon (PMSC) type 19, at position 326 (GAA → TAA). The results demonstrated that most of L. monocytogenes isolates from Lineage I expressed InlA and were the most invasive in HCT indicating their high virulence potential, while most isolates from Lineage II showed attenuated invasion due to non-expression of InlA and the presence of PMSC type 19 in inlA . The obtained results demonstrated that L. monocytogenes with indistinguishable PFGE profiles can be persisting or being reintroduced in beef processing facilities in the studied region and differences on their virulence potential based on their lineages and serogroups.
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