Upon entry into the eukaryotic cytosol, the facultative intracellular bacterium Shigella flexneri is exposed to an environment that may necessitate the expression of particular genes for it to survive and grow intracellularly. To identify genes that are induced in response to the intracellular environment, we screened a library containing fragments of the S. flexneri chromosome fused to a promoterless green fluorescent protein gene (gfp). Bacteria containing promoter fusions that had a higher level of gfp expression when S. flexneri was intracellular (in Henle cells) than when S. flexneri was extracellular (in Luria-Bertani broth) were isolated by using fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Nine different genes with increased expression in Henle cells were identified. Several genes (uhpT, bioA, and lysA) were involved in metabolic processes. The uhpT gene, which encoded a sugar phosphate transporter, was the most frequently isolated gene and was induced by glucose-6-phosphate in vitro. Two of the intracellularly induced genes (pstS and phoA) encode proteins involved in phosphate acquisition and were induced by phosphate limitation in vitro. Additionally, three iron-regulated genes (sufA, sitA, and fhuA) were identified. The sufA promoter was derepressed in iron-limiting media and was also induced by oxidative stress. To determine whether intracellularly induced genes are required for survival or growth in the intracellular environment, we constructed mutations in the S. flexneri uhpT and pstS genes by allelic exchange. The uhpT mutant could not use glucose-6-phosphate as a sole carbon source in vitro but exhibited normal plaque formation on Henle cell monolayers. The pstS mutant had no apparent growth defect in low-phosphate media in vitro but formed smaller plaques on Henle cell monolayers than the parent strain. Both mutants were as effective as the parent strain in inducing apoptosis in a macrophage cell line.
The gram-negative enteric pathogen Vibrio cholerae requires iron for growth. V. cholerae has multiple iron acquisition systems, including utilization of heme and hemoglobin, synthesis and transport of the catechol siderophore vibriobactin, and transport of several siderophores that it does not itself make. One siderophore that V. cholerae transports, but does not make, is enterobactin. Enterobactin transport requires TonB and is independent of the vibriobactin receptor ViuA. In this study, two candidate enterobactin receptor genes, irgA (VC0475) and vctA (VCA0232), were identified by analysis of the V. cholerae genomic sequence. A single mutation in either of these genes did not significantly impair enterobactin utilization, but a strain defective in both genes did not use enterobactin. When either irgA or vctA was supplied on a plasmid, the ability of the irgA vctA double mutant to use enterobactin was restored. This indicates that both VctA and IrgA transport enterobactin. We also identify the genes vctPDGC, which are linked to vctA and encode a periplasmic binding protein-dependent ABC transport system that functions in the utilization of both enterobactin and vibriobactin (VCA0227-0230). An irgA::TnphoA mutant strain, MBG40, was shown in a previous study to be highly attenuated and to have a strong colonization defect in an infant mouse model of V. cholerae infection (M. B. Goldberg, V. J. DiRita, and S. B. Calderwood, Infect. Immun. 58:55-60, 1990). In this work, a new irgA mutation was constructed, and this mutant strain was not significantly impaired in its ability to compete with the parental strain in infant mice and was not attenuated for virulence in an assay of 50% lethal dose. These data indicate that the virulence defect in MBG40 is not due to the loss of irgA function and that irgA is unlikely to be an important virulence factor.
A degP mutant of Shigella flexneri was identified in a screen for insertion mutants that invaded cultured cells but did not form wild-type plaques in monolayers. The degP mutant SM1100 invaded Henle cells at wild-type levels and induced apoptosis in macrophages but formed smaller plaques than those formed by wild-type S. flexneri in confluent monolayers of Henle and Caco-2 cells. The proportion of SM1100 bacteria with IcsA localized to the bacterial pole, a process required for actin polymerization into actin "tails," was reduced compared to results with wild-type bacteria. The reduction in proper IcsA localization may account for the reduced plaque size of the degP mutant. Although DegP is a protease, the protease activity of S. flexneri DegP was not required for IcsA localization or the formation of plaques in Henle cell monolayers. DegP was also required for efficient polar IcsA localization in E. coli expressing icsA. In addition, the growth or survival of SM1100 was compromised compared to that of the wild type at elevated temperatures and in acidic conditions.
In Vibrio cholerae, elaboration of toxin-coregulated pilus and protein secretion by the extracellular protein secretion apparatus occurred in the absence of both TonB systems. In contrast, the cognate putative ATPases were required for each process and could not substitute for each other.