The lrp gene and its role in type I fimbriation in Citrobacter rodentium

Angela Cordone, Emilia M.F. Mauriello, Derek J. Pickard, Gordon Dougan, Maurilio De Felice, Ezio Ricca

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Citrobacter rodentium is a murine pathogen that is now widely used as an in vivo model for gastrointestinal infections due to its similarities with human enteropathogens, such as the possession of a locus for enterocyte effacement (the LEE island). We studied the lrp gene of C. rodentium and found that it encodes a product highly similar to members of the Lrp (leucine-responsive regulatory protein) family of transcriptional regulators, able to recognize leucine as an effector and to repress the expression of its own structural gene. In enterobacteria, Lrp is a global regulator of gene expression, as it controls a large variety of genes, including those coding for cell appendages and other potential virulence factors. Based on the well-established role of Lrp on the expression of pilus genes in Escherichia coli, we also studied the role of Lrp in controlling the formation of the type I pilus in C. rodentium. Type I pili, produced by the fim system, are virulence factors of uropathogens, involved in mediating bacterial adhesion to bladder epithelial cells. Yeast agglutination assays showed that Lrp is needed for type I pilus formation and real-time PCR experiments indicated that Lrp has a strong leucine-mediated effect on the expression of the fimAICDFGH operon. Mutant studies indicated that this positive action is exerted mainly through a positive control of Lrp on the phase variation mechanism that regulates fimAICDFGH expression. A quantitative analysis of its expression suggested that this operon may also be negatively regulated at the level of transcription.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7009-7017
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Bacteriology
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes

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