RegA, an AraC-like protein, is a global transcriptional regulator that controls virulence gene expression in Citrobacter rodentium

Emily Hart, Ji Yang, Marija Tauschek, Michelle Louise Kelly, Matthew J Wakefield, Gad M Frankel, Elizabeth L Hartland, Roy M Robins-Browne

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Citrobacter rodentium is an attaching and effacing pathogen which causes transmissible colonic hyperplasia in mice. Infection with C. rodentium serves as a model for infection of humans with enteropathogenic and enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli. To identify novel colonization factors of C. rodentium, we screened a signature-tagged mutant library of C. rodentium in mice. One noncolonizing mutant had a single transposon insertion in an open reading frame (ORF) which we designated regA because of its homology to genes encoding members of the AraC family of transcriptional regulators. Deletion of regA in C. rodentium resulted in markedly reduced colonization of the mouse intestine. Examination of lacZ transcriptional fusions using promoter regions of known and putative virulence-associated genes of C. rodentium revealed that RegA strongly stimulated transcription of two newly identified genes located close to regA, which we designated adcA and kfcC. The cloned adcA gene conferred autoaggregation and adherence to mammalian cells to E. coli strain DH5 alpha , and a kfc mutation led to a reduction in the duration of intestinal colonization, but the kfc mutant was far less attenuated than the regA mutant. These results indicated that other genes of C. rodentium whose expression required activation by RegA were required for colonization. Microarray analysis revealed a number of RegAregulated ORFs encoding proteins homologous to known colonization factors. Transcription of these putative virulence determinants was activated by RegA only in the presence of sodium bicarbonate. Taken together, these results show that RegA is a global regulator of virulence in C. rodentium which activates factors that are required for intestinal colonization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5247 - 5256
Number of pages10
JournalInfection and Immunity
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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