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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Analysis of virulence plasmid gene expression of intra-macrophage and in vitro grown Rhodococcus equi ATCC 33701.

Rhodococcus equi is a soil organism that infects macrophages of foals and immunocompromised humans. Virulence in foal isolates is tightly associated with an 80kb plasmid, which includes a pathogenicity island (PI) with a virulence-associated gene family, vap. A DNA microarray containing 66 of 69 putative open reading frames (ORFs) of the virulence plasmid was developed. Virulence plasmid gene expression of R. equi grown in macrophages or under different conditions in vitro was compared against in vitro growth at 30 degrees C, pH=7. When grown in macrophages, all seven vap family genes as well as six ORFs within, but not outside, the PI were induced. Cluster analysis of the gene expression matrix assembled from different growth conditions suggested that those genes that actively responded to environmental changes divided broadly into two groups. One group, orf1, 2, 5, 6-8, 12-15, 19, and 20 (which includes all the vap genes), was induced at 37 degrees C, mostly by low iron, and to a lesser extent by the synergy of low calcium and pH=5. The second group, orf3, 9, and 10, was induced at 37 degrees C by magnesium depletion (produced by EDTA treatment of growth medium). Temperature (37 degrees C) was the most important factor inducing gene expression for the both groups. Iron restriction led to down-regulation of Group II genes and magnesium restriction led to down-regulation of Group I genes. A putative consensus IdeR binding site was identified upstream of vapA, suggesting that vapA is a member of an IdeR regulon in R. equi. Expression of genes inside macrophages was most closely but not completely mimicked by growth of bacteria at 37 degrees C, pH=5, under conditions of restricted iron, calcium and magnesium; that is, similar to environmental factors found inside macrophages.[1]


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