Publications by authors named "James A Budnick"

15 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Enemy of My Enemy: A Novel Insect-Specific Flavivirus Offers a Promising Platform for a Zika Virus Vaccine.

Vaccines (Basel) 2021 Oct 7;9(10). Epub 2021 Oct 7.

Department of Entomology, Fralin Life Science Institute, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA.

Vaccination remains critical for viral disease outbreak prevention and control, but conventional vaccine development typically involves trade-offs between safety and immunogenicity. We used a recently discovered insect-specific flavivirus as a vector in order to develop an exceptionally safe, flavivirus vaccine candidate with single-dose efficacy. To evaluate the safety and efficacy of this platform, we created a chimeric Zika virus (ZIKV) vaccine candidate, designated Aripo/Zika virus (ARPV/ZIKV). ZIKV has caused immense economic and public health impacts throughout the Americas and remains a significant public health threat. ARPV/ZIKV vaccination showed exceptional safety due to ARPV/ZIKV's inherent vertebrate host-restriction. ARPV/ZIKV showed no evidence of replication or translation in vitro and showed no hematological, histological or pathogenic effects in vivo. A single-dose immunization with ARPV/ZIKV induced rapid and robust neutralizing antibody and cellular responses, which offered complete protection against ZIKV-induced morbidity, mortality and in utero transmission in immune-competent and -compromised murine models. Splenocytes derived from vaccinated mice demonstrated significant CD4 and CD8 responses and significant cytokine production post-antigen exposure. Altogether, our results further support that chimeric insect-specific flaviviruses are a promising strategy to restrict flavivirus emergence via vaccine development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/vaccines9101142DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8539214PMC
October 2021

Vibrio cholerae TolC Is Required for Expression of the ToxR Regulon.

Infect Immun 2021 09 26;89(10):e0024221. Epub 2021 Jul 26.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicinegrid.471408.e, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

Vibrio cholerae is a Gram-negative bacterium that causes the enteric disease cholera. V. cholerae colonization of the human intestine is dependent on the expression of both virulence genes and environmental adaptation genes involved in antimicrobial resistance. The expression of virulence genes, including the genes encoding the main virulence factors cholera toxin (CT) and the toxin-coregulated pilus (TCP), are coordinately regulated by the ToxR regulon. Tripartite transport systems belonging to the ATP binding cassette, major facilitator, and resistance-nodulation-division families are critical for V. cholerae pathogenesis. Transport systems belonging to these families contribute to myriad phenotypes, including protein secretion, antimicrobial resistance, and virulence. TolC plays a central role in bacterial physiology by functioning as the outer membrane pore protein for tripartite transport systems. Consistent with this, V. cholerae was previously found to be required for MARTX toxin secretion and antimicrobial resistance. Here, we investigated the contribution of TolC to V. cholerae virulence. We documented that was required for CT and TCP production in O1 El Tor V. cholerae. This phenotype was linked to repression of the critical ToxR regulon transcription factor . Decreased transcription correlated with increased expression of the LysR-family transcription factor . Deletion of restored expression, and CT and TCP production, in a mutant. The collective results document that is required for ToxR regulon expression and further suggest that participates in an efflux-dependent feedback circuit to regulate virulence gene expression.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/IAI.00242-21DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8445200PMC
September 2021

Finding Order in the Chaos: Outstanding Questions in Klebsiella pneumoniae Pathogenesis.

Infect Immun 2021 03 17;89(4). Epub 2021 Mar 17.

Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

are Gram-negative facultative anaerobes that are found within host-associated commensal microbiomes, but they can also cause a wide range of infections that are often difficult to treat. These infections are caused by different pathotypes of , called either classical or hypervirulent strains. These two groups are genetically distinct, inhabit nonoverlapping geographies, and cause different types of harmful infections in humans. These distinct bacterial groups have also been found to interact differently with the host immune system. Initial innate immune defenses against infection include complement, macrophages, neutrophils, and monocytes; these defenses are primary strategies employed by the host to clear infections. pathogenesis depends upon the interactions between the microbe and each of these host defenses, and it is becoming increasingly apparent that bacterial genetic diversity impacts the outcomes of these interactions. Here, we highlight recent advances in our understanding of pathogenesis, with a focus on how bacterial evolution and diversity impact interactions with mammalian innate immune host defenses. We also discuss outstanding questions regarding how can frustrate normal immune responses, capitalize upon states of immunocompromise, and cause infections with high mortality.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/IAI.00693-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8090965PMC
March 2021

Complete Genome Sequence of Klebsiella pneumoniae Strain ATCC 43816.

Microbiol Resour Announc 2021 Feb 4;10(5). Epub 2021 Feb 4.

University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA

is a member of that causes a multitude of infections in compromised and healthy individuals. The rise of hypervirulent and multiple-drug-resistant strains has made this organism a global health threat. Here, we report the complete genome sequence of strain ATCC 43816.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/MRA.01441-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7862963PMC
February 2021

A central role for the transcriptional regulator VtlR in small RNA-mediated gene regulation in Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

Sci Rep 2020 09 11;10(1):14968. Epub 2020 Sep 11.

Center for One Health Research, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, 24060, USA.

LysR-type transcriptional regulators (LTTRs) are the most common type of transcriptional regulators in prokaryotes and function by altering gene expression in response to environmental stimuli. In the class Alphaproteobacteria, a conserved LTTR named VtlR is critical to the establishment of host-microbe interactions. In the mammalian pathogen Brucella abortus, VtlR is required for full virulence in a mouse model of infection, and VtlR activates the expression of abcR2, which encodes a small regulatory RNA (sRNA). In the plant symbiont Sinorhizobium meliloti, the ortholog of VtlR, named LsrB, is involved in the symbiosis of the bacterium with alfalfa. Agrobacterium tumefaciens is a close relative of both B. abortus and S. meliloti, and this bacterium is the causative agent of crown gall disease in plants. In the present study, we demonstrate that VtlR is involved in the ability of A. tumefaciens to grow appropriately in artificial medium, and an A. tumefaciens vtlR deletion strain is defective in motility, biofilm formation, and tumorigenesis of potato discs. RNA-sequencing analyses revealed that more than 250 genes are dysregulated in the ∆vtlR strain, and importantly, VtlR directly controls the expression of three sRNAs in A. tumefaciens. Taken together, these data support a model in which VtlR indirectly regulates hundreds of genes via manipulation of sRNA pathways in A. tumefaciens, and moreover, while the VtlR/LsrB protein is present and structurally conserved in many members of the Alphaproteobacteria, the VtlR/LsrB regulatory circuitry has diverged in order to accommodate the unique environmental niche of each organism.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-72117-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7486931PMC
September 2020

Characterizing the transport and utilization of the neurotransmitter GABA in the bacterial pathogen Brucella abortus.

PLoS One 2020 26;15(8):e0237371. Epub 2020 Aug 26.

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, Virginia, United States of America.

The neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is the most abundant inhibitory neurotransmitter in the human brain; however, it is becoming more evident that this non-proteinogenic amino acid plays multiple physiological roles in biology. In the present study, the transport and function of GABA is studied in the highly infectious intracellular bacterium Brucella abortus. The data show that 3H-GABA is imported by B. abortus under nutrient limiting conditions and that the small RNAs AbcR1 and AbcR2 negatively regulate this transport. A specific transport system, gts, is responsible for the transport of GABA as determined by measuring 3H-GABA transport in isogenic deletion strains of known AbcR1/2 regulatory targets; however, this locus is unnecessary for Brucella infection in BALB/c mice. Similar assays revealed that 3H-GABA transport is uninhibited by the 20 standard proteinogenic amino acids, representing preference for the transport of 3H-GABA. Metabolic studies did not show any potential metabolic utilization of GABA by B. abortus as a carbon or nitrogen source, and RNA sequencing analysis revealed limited transcriptional differences between B. abortus 2308 with or without exposure to GABA. While this study provides evidence for GABA transport by B. abortus, questions remain as to why and when this transport is utilized during Brucella pathogenesis.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0237371PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7449393PMC
October 2020

The Endoribonuclease RNase E Coordinates Expression of mRNAs and Small Regulatory RNAs and Is Critical for the Virulence of Brucella abortus.

J Bacteriol 2020 09 23;202(20). Epub 2020 Sep 23.

Center for One Health Research, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

RNases are key regulatory components in prokaryotes, responsible for the degradation and maturation of specific RNA molecules at precise times. Specifically, RNases allow cells to cope with changes in their environment through rapid alteration of gene expression. To date, few RNases have been characterized in the mammalian pathogen In the present work, we sought to investigate several RNases in and determine what role, if any, they have in pathogenesis. Of the 4 RNases reported in this study, the highly conserved endoribonuclease, RNase E, was found to play an integral role in the virulence of Although , which encodes RNase E, is essential in , we were able to generate a strain encoding a defective version of RNase E lacking the C-terminal portion of the protein, and this strain (-tnc) was attenuated in a mouse model of infection. RNA-sequencing analysis revealed massive RNA dysregulation in -tnc, with 122 upregulated and 161 downregulated transcripts compared to the parental strain. Interestingly, several mRNAs related to metal homeostasis were significantly decreased in the -tnc strain. We also identified a small regulatory RNA (sRNA), called Bsr4, that exhibited significantly elevated levels in -tnc, demonstrating an important role for RNase E in sRNA-mediated regulatory pathways in Overall, these data highlight the importance of RNase E in , including the role of RNase E in properly controlling mRNA levels and contributing to virulence in an animal model of infection. Brucellosis is a debilitating disease of humans and animals globally, and there is currently no vaccine to combat human infection by spp. Moreover, effective antibiotic treatment in humans is extremely difficult and can lead to disease relapse. Therefore, it is imperative that systems and pathways be identified and characterized in the brucellae so new vaccines and therapies can be generated. In this study, we describe the impact of the endoribonuclease RNase E on the control of mRNA and small regulatory RNA (sRNA) levels in , as well as the importance of RNase E for the full virulence of This work greatly enhances our understanding of ribonucleases in the biology and pathogenesis of spp.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JB.00240-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7515240PMC
September 2020

Sinorhizobium meliloti YbeY is a zinc-dependent single-strand specific endoribonuclease that plays an important role in 16S ribosomal RNA processing.

Nucleic Acids Res 2020 01;48(1):332-348

Department of Biology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

Single-strand specific endoribonuclease YbeY has been shown to play an important role in the processing of the 3' end of the 16S rRNA in Escherichia coli. Lack of YbeY results in the accumulation of the 17S rRNA precursor. In contrast to a previous report, we show that Sinorhizobium meliloti YbeY exhibits endoribonuclease activity on single-stranded RNA substrate but not on the double-stranded substrate. This study also identifies the previously unknown metal ion involved in YbeY function to be Zn2+ and shows that the activity of YbeY is enhanced when the occupancy of zinc is increased. We have identified a pre-16S rRNA precursor that accumulates in the S. meliloti ΔybeY strain. We also show that ΔybeY mutant of Brucella abortus, a mammalian pathogen, also accumulates a similar pre-16S rRNA. The pre-16S species is longer in alpha-proteobacteria than in gamma-proteobacteria. We demonstrate that the YbeY from E. coli and S. meliloti can reciprocally complement the rRNA processing defect in a ΔybeY mutant of the other organism. These results establish YbeY as a zinc-dependent single-strand specific endoribonuclease that functions in 16S rRNA processing in both alpha- and gamma-proteobacteria.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/nar/gkz1095DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6943124PMC
January 2020

Quantitative Variation in m.3243A > G Mutation Produce Discrete Changes in Energy Metabolism.

Sci Rep 2019 04 8;9(1):5752. Epub 2019 Apr 8.

Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at Virginia Tech Carilion, Roanoke, VA, 24016, USA.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) 3243A > G tRNALeu heteroplasmic mutation (m.3243A > G) exhibits clinically heterogeneous phenotypes. While the high mtDNA heteroplasmy exceeding a critical threshold causes mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis with stroke-like episodes (MELAS) syndrome, the low mtDNA heteroplasmy causes maternally inherited diabetes with or without deafness (MIDD) syndrome. How quantitative differences in mtDNA heteroplasmy produces distinct pathological states has remained elusive. Here we show that despite striking similarities in the energy metabolic gene expression signature, the mitochondrial bioenergetics, biogenesis and fuel catabolic functions are distinct in cells harboring low or high levels of the m.3243 A > G mutation compared to wild type cells. We further demonstrate that the low heteroplasmic mutant cells exhibit a coordinate induction of transcriptional regulators of the mitochondrial biogenesis, glucose and fatty acid metabolism pathways that lack in near homoplasmic mutant cells compared to wild type cells. Altogether, these results shed new biological insights on the potential mechanisms by which low mtDNA heteroplasmy may progressively cause diabetes mellitus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-019-42262-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6453956PMC
April 2019

Defining the regulatory mechanism of NikR, a nickel-responsive transcriptional regulator, in Brucella abortus.

Microbiology (Reading) 2018 10 31;164(10):1320-1325. Epub 2018 Jul 31.

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Center for One Health Research, VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24060, USA.

Metals are essential micronutrients for virtually all forms of life, but metal acquisition is a double-edged sword, because high concentrations of divalent cations can be toxic to the cell. Therefore, the genes involved in metal acquisition, storage and efflux are tightly regulated. The present study characterizes a nickel-responsive transcriptional regulator in the intracellular mammalian pathogen, Brucella abortus. Deletion of bab2_0432 (nikR) in B. abortus led to alterations in the nickel-responsive expression of the genes encoding the putative nickel importer NikABCDE and, moreover, NikR binds directly to a specific DNA sequence within the promoter region of nikA in a metal-dependent manner to control gene expression. While NikR is involved in controlling the expression of nikA, nikR is not required for the infection of macrophages or mice by B. abortus. Overall, this work characterizes the role of NikR in nickel-responsive gene expression, as well as the dispensability of nikR for Brucella virulence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/mic.0.000702DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6600342PMC
October 2018

Characterization of Three Small Proteins in Brucella abortus Linked to Fucose Utilization.

J Bacteriol 2018 09 24;200(18). Epub 2018 Aug 24.

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Center for One Health Research, VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Elucidating the function of proteins <50 amino acids in length is no small task. Nevertheless, small proteins can play vital roles in the lifestyle of bacteria and influence the virulence of pathogens; thus, the investigation of the small proteome is warranted. Recently, our group identified the protein VtlR as a transcriptional activator of four genes, one of which is the well-studied small regulatory RNA AbcR2, while the other three genes encode hypothetical small proteins, two of which are highly conserved among the order This study provides evidence that all three genes encode authentic small proteins and that all three are highly expressed under oxidative stress, low-pH, and stationary-phase growth conditions. Fractionation of the cells revealed that the proteins are localized to the membranes of We demonstrate that the small proteins under the transcriptional control of VtlR are not accountable for attenuation observed with the deletion strain. However, there is an association between VtlR-regulated genes and growth inhibition in the presence of the sugar l-fucose. Subsequent transcriptomic analyses revealed that initiates the transcription of a locus encoding a putative sugar transport and utilization system when the bacteria are cultured in the presence of l-fucose. Altogether, our observations characterize the role of the VtlR-controlled small proteins BAB1_0914, BAB2_0512, and BAB2_0574 in the biology of , particularly in the capacity of the bacteria to utilize l-fucose. Despite being one of the most common zoonoses worldwide, there is currently no human vaccine to combat brucellosis. Therefore, a better understanding of the pathogenesis and biology of spp., the causative agent of brucellosis, is essential for the discovery of novel therapeutics against these highly infectious bacteria. In this study, we further characterize the virulence-associated transcriptional regulator VtlR in Our findings not only shed light on our current understanding of a virulence related genetic system in spp. but also increase our knowledge of small proteins in the field of bacteriology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JB.00127-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6112010PMC
September 2018

Endoribonuclease YbeY Is Linked to Proper Cellular Morphology and Virulence in Brucella abortus.

J Bacteriol 2018 06 24;200(12). Epub 2018 May 24.

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

The YbeY endoribonuclease is one of the best-conserved proteins across the kingdoms of life. In the present study, we demonstrated that YbeY in is linked to a variety of important activities, including proper cellular morphology, mRNA transcript levels, and virulence. Deletion of in led to a small-colony phenotype when the bacteria were grown on agar medium, as well as to significant aberrations in the morphology of the bacterial cell as evidenced by electron microscopy. Additionally, compared to the parental strain, the Δ strain was significantly attenuated in both macrophage and mouse models of infection. The Δ strain also showed increased sensitivities to several -applied stressors, including bile acid, hydrogen peroxide, SDS, and paraquat. Transcriptomic analysis revealed that a multitude of mRNA transcripts are dysregulated in the Δ strain, and many of the identified mRNAs encode proteins involved in metabolism, nutrient transport, transcriptional regulation, and flagellum synthesis. We subsequently constructed gene deletion strains of the most highly dysregulated systems, and several of the YbeY-linked gene deletion strains exhibited defects in the ability of the bacteria to survive and replicate in primary murine macrophages. Taken together, these data establish a clear role for YbeY in the biology and virulence of ; moreover, this work further illuminates the highly varied roles of this widely conserved endoribonuclease in bacteria. spp. are highly efficient bacterial pathogens of animals and humans, causing significant morbidity and economic loss worldwide, and relapse of disease often occurs following antibiotic treatment of human brucellosis. As such, novel therapeutic strategies to combat infections are needed. Ribonucleases in the brucellae are understudied, and these enzymes represent elements that may be potential targets for future treatment approaches. The present work demonstrates the importance of the YbeY endoribonuclease for cellular morphology, efficient control of mRNA levels, and virulence in Overall, the results of this study advance our understanding of the critical roles of YbeY in the pathogenesis of the intracellular brucellae and expand our understanding of this highly conserved RNase.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JB.00105-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5971472PMC
June 2018

Proline utilization system is required for infection by the pathogenic α-proteobacterium Brucella abortus.

Microbiology (Reading) 2017 07 21;163(7):970-979. Epub 2017 Jul 21.

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases, VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24060, USA.

Proline utilization (Put) systems have been described in a number of bacteria; however, the importance and functionality of the Put system in the intracellular pathogen Brucellaabortus has not been explored. Generally, bacterial Put systems are composed of the bifunctional enzyme proline dehydrogenase PutA and its transcriptional activator PutR. Here, we demonstrate that the genes putA (bab2_0518) and putR (bab2_0517) are critical for the chronic infection of mice by B. abortus, but putA and putR are not required for the survival and replication of the bacteria in naive macrophages. Additionally, in vitro experiments revealed that putR is necessary for the ability of the bacteria to withstand oxidative stress, as a ΔputR deletion strain is hypersensitive to hydrogen peroxide exposure. Quantitative reverse transcription-PCR and putA-lacZ transcriptional reporter studies revealed that PutR acts as a transcriptional activator of putA in Brucella, and electrophoretic mobility shift assays confirmed that PutR binds directly to the putA promoter region. Biochemical analyses demonstrated that a purified recombinant B. abortus PutA protein possesses quintessential proline dehydrogenase activity, as PutA is capable of catalysing the conversion of proline to glutamate. Altogether, these data are the first to reveal that the Put system plays a significant role in the ability of B. abortus to replicate and survive within its host, as well as to describe the genetic regulation and biochemical activity of the Put system in Brucella.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1099/mic.0.000490DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5737144PMC
July 2017

A LysR-family transcriptional regulator required for virulence in Brucella abortus is highly conserved among the α-proteobacteria.

Mol Microbiol 2015 Oct 14;98(2):318-28. Epub 2015 Aug 14.

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases, VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, 24060, USA.

Small RNAs are principal elements of bacterial gene regulation and physiology. Two small RNAs in Brucella abortus, AbcR1 and AbcR2, are required for wild-type virulence. Examination of the abcR loci revealed the presence of a gene encoding a LysR-type transcriptional regulator flanking abcR2 on chromosome 1. Deletion of this lysR gene (bab1_1517) resulted in the complete loss of abcR2 expression while no difference in abcR1 expression was observed. The B. abortus bab1_1517 mutant strain was significantly attenuated in macrophages and mice, and bab1_1517 was subsequently named vtlR for virulence-associated transcriptional LysR-family regulator. Microarray analysis revealed three additional genes encoding small hypothetical proteins also under the control of VtlR. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays demonstrated that VtlR binds directly to the promoter regions of abcR2 and the three hypothetical protein-encoding genes, and DNase I footprint analysis identified the specific nucleotide sequence in these promoters that VtlR binds to and drives gene expression. Strikingly, orthologs of VtlR are encoded in a wide range of host-associated α-proteobacteria, and it is likely that the VtlR genetic system represents a common regulatory circuit critical for host-bacterium interactions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mmi.13123DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5846693PMC
October 2015

Coordinated zinc homeostasis is essential for the wild-type virulence of Brucella abortus.

J Bacteriol 2015 May 17;197(9):1582-91. Epub 2015 Feb 17.

Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia, USA

Unlabelled: Metal homeostasis in bacterial cells is a highly regulated process requiring intricately coordinated import and export, as well as precise sensing of intracellular metal concentrations. The uptake of zinc (Zn) has been linked to the virulence of Brucella abortus; however, the capacity of Brucella strains to sense Zn levels and subsequently coordinate Zn homeostasis has not been described. Here, we show that expression of the genes encoding the zinc uptake system ZnuABC is negatively regulated by the Zn-sensing Fur family transcriptional regulator, Zur, by direct interactions between Zur and the promoter region of znuABC. Moreover, the MerR-type regulator, ZntR, controls the expression of the gene encoding the Zn exporter ZntA by binding directly to its promoter. Deletion of zur or zntR alone did not result in increased zinc toxicity in the corresponding mutants; however, deletion of zntA led to increased sensitivity to Zn but not to other metals, such as Cu and Ni, suggesting that ZntA is a Zn-specific exporter. Strikingly, deletion of zntR resulted in significant attenuation of B. abortus in a mouse model of chronic infection, and subsequent experiments revealed that overexpression of zntA in the zntR mutant is the molecular basis for its decreased virulence.

Importance: The importance of zinc uptake for Brucella pathogenesis has been demonstrated previously, but to date, there has been no description of how overall zinc homeostasis is maintained and genetically controlled in the brucellae. The present work defines the predominant zinc export system, as well as the key genetic regulators of both zinc uptake and export in Brucella abortus. Moreover, the data show the importance of precise coordination of the zinc homeostasis systems as disregulation of some elements of these systems leads to the attenuation of Brucella virulence in a mouse model. Overall, this study advances our understanding of the essential role of zinc in the pathogenesis of intracellular bacteria.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JB.02543-14DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4403653PMC
May 2015
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