Appropriate DevR (DosR)-mediated signaling determines transcriptional response, hypoxic viability and virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis.

De Majumdar, S.; Vashist, A.; Dhingra, S.; Gupta, R.; Singh, A.; Challu, V.K.; Ramanathan, V.D.; Kumar, P.; Tyagi, J.S.


PLoS ONE; 2012; 7; e35847.


Abstract: Background: The DevR(DosR) regulon is implicated in hypoxic adaptation and virulence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis . The present study was designed to decipher the impact of perturbation in DevR-mediated signaling on these properties.


Methodology/Principal Findings : M. tb complemented (Comp) strains expressing different levels of DevR were constructed in Mut1* background (expressing DevR N-terminal domain in fusion with AphI (DevR N -Kan) and in Mut2 D devR background (deletion mutant). They were compared for their hypoxia adaptation and virulence properties. Diverse phenotypes were noted; basal level expression (~5.3 ± 2.3 m M) when induced to levels equivalent to WT levels (~25.8 ± 9.3 m M) was associated with robust DevR regulon induction and hypoxic adaptation (Comp 9* and 10*), whereas low-level expression (detectable at transcript level) as in Comp 11* and Comp15 was associated with an adaptation defect. Intermediate-level expression (~3.3 ± 1.2 m M) partially restored hypoxic adaptation functions in Comp2, but not in Comp1* bacteria that coexpressed DevR N -Kan. Comp* strains in Mut1* background also exhibited diverse virulence phenotypes; high/very low-level DevR expression was associated with virulence whereas intermediate-level expression was associated with low virulence. Transcription profiling and gene expression analysis revealed up-regulation of the phosphate starvation response (PSR) in Mut1* and Comp11* bacteria, but not in WT/Mut2 D devR/other Comp strains, indicating a plasticity in expression pathways that is determined by the magnitude of signaling perturbation through DevR N -Kan.


Conclusions/Significance : A minimum DevR concentration of ~3.3 ± 1.2 m M (as in Comp2 bacteria) is required to support HspX expression in the standing culture hypoxia model. The relative intracellular concentrations of DevR and DevR N -Kan appear to be critical for determining dormancy regulon induction, hypoxic adaptation and virulence. Dysregulated DevR N -Kan-mediated signaling selectively triggers the PSR in bacteria expressing no/very low level of DevR. Our findings illustrate the important role of appropriate two-component- mediated signaling in pathogen physiology and the resilience of bacteria when such signaling is perturbed.



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