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Clostridium perfringens is a Gram-positive rod that is widely distributed in nature and is the etiological agent of several human and animal diseases. The complete genome sequence of C. perfringens strain 13 has been determined and multiple two-component signal transduction systems identified. One of these systems, designated here as the MalNO system, was analyzed in this study. Microarray analysis was used to carry out functional analysis of a malO mutant. The results, which were confirmed by quantitative reverse-transcriptase PCR, indicated that genes putatively involved in the uptake and metabolism of maltose were up-regulated in the malO mutant. These effects were reversed by complementation with the wild-type malO gene. Growth of these isogenic strains in medium with and without maltose showed that the malO mutant recovered more quickly from maltose deprivation when compared to the wild-type and complemented strains, leading to the conclusion that the MalNO system regulates maltose utilization in C. perfringens. It is postulated that this regulatory network may allow this soil bacterium and opportunistic pathogen to respond to environmental conditions where there are higher concentrations of maltose or maltodextrins, such as in the presence of decaying plant material in rich soil.
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