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  • 1
    ISSN: 1365-2958
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Biology , Medicine
    Notes: Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic human pathogen, is a major causative agent of mortality and morbidity in immunocompromised individuals and those with cystic fibrosis (CF). In CF patients, the secretion of abnormally high amounts of mucus into the airways contributes to their susceptibility to infection by P. aeruginosa. To identify virulence genes of P. aeruginosa that are important in infection of CF patients, an in vivo selection system (IVET) was used to identify promoters that are specifically inducible by respiratory mucus derived from CF patients. Three genetic loci that are highly inducible by the mucus were identified. One of them is a well-characterized virulence gene (fptA), encoding the receptor for pyochelin, which is a P. aeruginosa iron siderophore. Induction of the fptA gene by mucus is suppressed by the addition of exogenous iron, demonstrating that the mucus is an iron chelator and generates an iron-deficient environment in CF lungs. Therefore, as a part of the host-defence mechanism, the mucus could also be responsible for induction of iron-regulated virulence factors of bacterial pathogens. The second locus, np20, encodes a peptide that shares sequence homology to a number of transcriptional regulators. An identical locus was previously identified to be inducible in vivo during infection of mice and was shown to be important in bacterial virulence in a neutropenic-mouse infection model. The third locus, designated migA (mucus inducible gene), was sequenced and found to encode a 299-amino-acid peptide which is homologous to glycosyltransferases of other bacteria, and is involved in the biosynthesis of lipopolysaccharides or exopolysaccharides. Inducibilities of the np20 and migA genes are not affected by iron and the exact nature of the inducing signals in the mucus is not known. The possible implications of the migA inducibility by respiratory mucus is discussed in relation to the P. aeruginosa infection in CF.
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  • 2
    ISSN: 1365-2958
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Biology , Medicine
    Notes: The PilR protein of Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a transcriptional activator of the pilin gene and belongs to a two-component sensor–regulator family. PilR was overproduced by fusing pilR to the gene for the maltose-binding protein (malE), yielding a MalE–PilR hybrid protein. The plasmid with the malE–pilR fusion, when introduced into a non-piliated pilR mutant strain of P. aeruginosa, restored piliation, indicating that the hybrid protein retains PilR function in vivo. The MalE-PilR protein was purified from Escherichia coli and used in a series of DNA-binding studies. A specific pilin promoter-binding activity of MalE-PilR was observed in a gef retardation assay. Subsequent DNase I footprinting analysis revealed a 40bp PilR-binding site located at the −120 to −80 region, relative to the transcriptional start site of the pilin gene. This PilR-binding region consists of a nine-base sequence and three consensus sequences of 5-(N)4–6C/GTGTC-3′, in a tandem array in which the first 7–9 bp are bound by the PilR on the non-Goding strand, leaving the last two nucleotides (TC) unbound. On the coding strand, PilR binds of sequences complementary to the two middle consensus sequences of the non-coding strand. A sequence similar to the NifA recognition site (5-TGT-(N)11-ACA-3′) is also found within the PilR-binding region. Deletion analysis and disruption of the individual consensus PilR-binding sequences by site-directed mutagenesis revealed that all four PilRbinding sites are absolutely required for the PilS/PilR-mediated pilin gene expression. The presence of four PilR-binding repeat sequences suggests that PilR protein may bind co-operatively or as a multimer.
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  • 3
    ISSN: 1365-2958
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Biology , Medicine
    Notes: Transformation of plants by Agrobacterium tumefaciens is mediated by a set of virulence (vir) genes that are specifically induced by plant signal molecules through the VirA/VirG two-component regulatory system. The plant signal is transmitted from VirA to VirG by a cascade of phosphorylation reactions followed by the sequence-specific DNA binding of the VirG protein to the vir gene promoters which then activates their transcription. In this report, we describe a VirG mutant which is able to activate Wr gene expression independently of the VirA molecule and the two plant signal molecules, acetosyringone and monosaccharides. A strain of Agrobacterium containing this virG gene but lacking a functional virA gene was able to induce tumours on all three plants that were tested. A single amino acid change of asparagine (N) to aspartate (D) at position 54, adjacent to the site of VirG phosphorylation, aspartate 52, resulted in this constitutive phenotype. In vitro phosphorylation experiments showed that the mutant protein cannot be phosphorylated by VirA, suggesting that the negative charge resulting from the N to D switch mimics the phosphorylated conformation of the VirG molecule. The same amino acid change in the virG gene of the supervirulent strain A281 also resulted in a constitutive phenotype. However, the vir genes were not induced to high levels when compared with the levels of the constitutive Virg of strain A348.
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  • 4
    ISSN: 1365-2958
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Biology , Medicine
    Notes: Mutagenesis of the vir region on the Ti plasmid of Agrobacterium tumefaciens revealed a new locus, virJ, that is induced by the plant-wound signal molecule, acetosyringone (AS). virJ lies between virA and virB, and is transcribed in the same direction. The amino acid sequence of virJ is similar to a region of a previously characterized chromosomal gene, acvB, required for virulence. virJ can complement the avirulent phenotype of an acvB mutant, indicating that virJ and acvB encode the same factor required for tumorigenesis. Southern analysis revealed that virJ is present on the Ti plasmid of an octopine but not a nopaline strain whereas acvB is present on the chromosomes of both octopine and nopaline strains. While virJ is regulated by AS under the control of the virA/virG two-component regulatory system, acvB is not induced by AS. VirJ possesses a putative signal peptide and was found predominantly in the periplasmic fraction. The strain lacking both acvB and virJ had an impaired ability to transfer T-DNA into plant cells, suggesting that the factor encoded by virJ or acvB is required for T-DNA transfer from A. tumefaciens to plant cells. acvB is the first chromosomal gene implicated in T-DNA transfer, but whether it functions specifically for this process is not clear. We hypothesize that virJ evolved from acvB, presumably for a more specialized role in tumorigenesis.
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  • 5
    ISSN: 1365-2958
    Source: Blackwell Publishing Journal Backfiles 1879-2005
    Topics: Biology , Medicine
    Notes: We have previously reported on the isolation of in vivo inducible genes of Pseudomonas aeruginosa using IVET system. One of such genes isolated from burn mouse infection model encodes a short open reading frame with unknown function. In this study, we demonstrate that this gene product specifically suppresses the expression of type III secretion genes in P. aeruginosa, thus named PtrA (Pseudomonas type III repressor A). A direct interaction between the PtrA and type III transcriptional activator ExsA was demonstrated, suggesting that its repressor function is probably realized through inhibition of the ExsA protein function. Indeed, an elevated expression of the exsA compensates the repressor effect of the PtrA. Interestingly, expression of the ptrA is highly and specifically induced by copper cation. A copper- responsive two-component regulatory system, copR-copS, has also been identified and shown to be essential for the copper resistance in P. aeruginosa as well as the activation of ptrA in response to the copper signal. Elevated expression of the ptrA during the infection of mouse burn wound suggests that P. aeruginosa has evolved tight regulatory systems to shut down energy-expensive type III secretion apparatus in response to specific environmental signals, such as copper stress.
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