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Infection and Immunity Molecular Pathogenesis

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Autoregulation and Virulence Control by the Toxin-Antitoxin System SavRS in Staphylococcus aureus [Molecular Pathogenesis]


Toxin-antitoxin (TA) systems play diverse physiological roles, such as plasmid maintenance, growth control, and persister cell formation, but their involvement in bacterial pathogenicity remains largely unknown. Here, we have identified a novel type II toxin-antitoxin system, SavRS, and revealed the molecular mechanisms of its autoregulation and virulence control in Staphylococcus aureus. Electrophoretic mobility shift assay and isothermal titration calorimetry data indicated that the antitoxin SavR acted as the primary repressor bound to its own promoter, while the toxin SavS formed a complex with SavR to enhance the ability to bind to the operator site. DNase I footprinting assay identified the SavRS-binding site containing a short and long palindrome in the promoter region. Further, mutation and DNase I footprinting assay demonstrated that the two palindromes were crucial for DNA binding and transcriptional repression. More interestingly, genetic deletion of the savRS system led to the increased hemolytic activity and pathogenicity in a mouse subcutaneous abscess model. We further identified two virulence genes, hla and efb, by real-time quantitative reverse transcription-PCR and demonstrated that SavR and SavRS could directly bind to their promoter regions to repress virulence gene expression.

Salmonella-Mediated Inflammation Eliminates Competitors for Fructose-Asparagine in the Gut [Molecular Pathogenesis]


Salmonella enterica elicits intestinal inflammation to gain access to nutrients. One of these nutrients is fructose-asparagine (F-Asn). The availability of F-Asn to Salmonella during infection is dependent upon Salmonella pathogenicity islands 1 and 2, which in turn are required to provoke inflammation. Here, we determined that F-Asn is present in mouse chow at approximately 400 pmol/mg (dry weight). F-Asn is also present in the intestinal tract of germfree mice at 2,700 pmol/mg (dry weight) and in the intestinal tract of conventional mice at 9 to 28 pmol/mg. These findings suggest that the mouse intestinal microbiota consumes F-Asn. We utilized heavy-labeled precursors of F-Asn to monitor its formation in the intestine, in the presence or absence of inflammation, and none was observed. Finally, we determined that some members of the class Clostridia encode F-Asn utilization pathways and that they are eliminated from highly inflamed Salmonella-infected mice. Collectively, our studies identify the source of F-Asn as the diet and that Salmonella-mediated inflammation is required to eliminate competitors and allow the pathogen nearly exclusive access to this nutrient.