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

Lon protease activity causes down-regulation of Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 invasion gene expression after infection of epithelial cells.

Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium causes self-limiting gastroenteritis in humans and a typhoid-like disease in mice that serves as a model for typhoid infections in humans. A critical step in Salmonella pathogenesis is the invasion of enterocytes and M cells of the small intestine via expression of a type III secretion system, encoded on Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 (SPI-1), that secretes effector proteins into host cells, leading to engulfment of the bacteria within large membrane ruffles. The in vitro regulation of invasion genes has been the subject of much scientific investigation. Transcription of the hilA gene, which encodes an OmpR/ToxR-type transcriptional activator of downstream invasion genes, is increased during growth under high-osmolarity and low-oxygen conditions, which presumably mimic the environment found within the small intestine. Several negative regulators of invasion gene expression have been identified, including HilE, Hha, and Lon protease. Mutations within the respective genes increase the expression of hilA when the bacteria are grown under environmental conditions that are not favorable for hilA expression and invasion. In this study, the intracellular expression of invasion genes was examined, after bacterial invasion of HEp-2 epithelial cells, using Salmonella strains containing plasmid-encoded short-half-life green fluorescent protein reporters of hilA, hilD, hilC, or sicA expression. Interestingly, the expression of SPI-1 genes was down-regulated after invasion, and this was important for the intracellular survival of the bacteria. In addition, the effects of mutations in genes encoding negative regulators of invasion on intracellular hilA expression were examined. Our results indicate that Lon protease is important for down-regulation of hilA expression and intracellular survival after the invasion of epithelial cells.[1]


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