Analysis of the virulence-associated RevSR two-component signal transduction system of Clostridium perfringens

Jackie K. Cheung, Jessica A. Wisniewski, Vicki M. Adams, Noelene S. Quinsey, Julian I. Rood

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Clostridium perfringens is a Gram-positive, anaerobic, spore-forming bacterium that causes human gas gangrene (clostridial myonecrosis) and food poisoning. Early studies showed that virulence was regulated by the VirSR two-component signal transduction system. However, our identification of the RevR orphan response regulator indicated that more than one system was involved in controlling virulence. To further characterize this virulence-associated regulator, gel mobility shift experiments, coupled with DNase I footprinting, were used to identify the RevR DNA binding sequence. Bioinformatics analysis suggested that an orphan sensor histidine kinase, CPE1757 (renamed RevS), was the cognate sensor of RevR. Interaction between RevS and RevR was demonstrated by use of a bacterial two-hybrid system and validated by protein-protein interaction studies using biolayer interferometry. To assess the involvement of RevS in virulence regulation, the revS gene was inactivated by Targetron insertion. When isogenic wild-type, revS and complemented revS strains were tested in a mouse myonecrosis model, the revS mutant was found to be attenuated in virulence, which was similar to the attenuation observed previously with the revR mutant. However, transcriptional analysis of selected RevR-regulated genes in the revS mutant revealed a different pattern of expression to a revR mutant, suggesting that the RevSR system is more complex than originally thought. Taken together, the results have led to the identification and characterization of the two essential parts of a new regulatory network that is involved in the regulation of virulence in C. perfringens.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-442
Number of pages14
JournalInternational Journal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2016


  • clostridium perfringens
  • gene regulation
  • virulence
  • two-component system

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