The salmonella enterica PhoP directly activates the horizontally acquired SPI-2 gene ssel and is functionally different from a S. bongori ortholog

Ohad Gal-Mor, Dana Elhadad, Wanyin Deng, Galia Rahav, Brett B. Finlay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

To establish a successful infection within the host, a pathogen must closely regulate multiple virulence traits to ensure their accurate temporal and spatial expression. As a highly adapted intracellular pathogen, Salmonella enterica has acquired during its evolution various virulence genes via numerous lateral transfer events, including the acquisition of the Salmonella Pathogenicity Island 2 (SPI-2) and its associated effectors. Beneficial use of horizontally acquired genes requires that their expression is effectively coordinated with the already existing virulence programs and the regulatory set-up in the bacterium. As an example for such a mechanism, we show here that the ancestral PhoPQ system of Salmonella enterica is able to regulate directly the SPI-2 effector gene sseL (encoding a secreted deubiquitinase) in an SsrB-independent manner and that PhoP plays a part in a feed-forward regulatory loop, which fine-tunes the cellular level of SseL. Additionally, we demonstrate the presence of conserved cis regulatory elements in the promoter region of sseL and show direct binding of purified PhoP to this region. Interestingly, in contrast to the S. enterica PhoP, an ortholog regulator from a S. bongori SARC 12 strain was found to be impaired in promoting transcription of sseL and other genes from the PhoP regulon. These findings have led to the identification of a previously uncharacterized residue in the DNA-binding domain of PhoP, which is required for the transcriptional activation of PhoP regulated genes in Salmonella spp. Collectively our data demonstrate an interesting interface between the acquired SsrB regulon and the ancestral PhoPQ regulatory circuit, provide novel insights into the function of PhoP, and highlight a mechanism of regulatory integration of horizontally acquired genes into the virulence network of Salmonella enterica.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere20024
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume6
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2011

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