A vir-repressed gene of Bordetella pertussis is required for virulence.
ABSTRACT: Coordinate regulation of gene expression in Bordetella pertussis is controlled by the products of the vir locus, BvgA and BvgS. In the presence of modulating signals such as MgSO4 and nicotinic acid, expression of vir-activated genes (vag) is reduced, while expression of vir-repressed genes (vrg) is maximal. We have cloned one of these vir-repressed genes, vrg-6, in Escherichia coli. DNA sequencing has shown that vrg-6 is contained on a single EcoRI restriction endonuclease fragment and is predicted to code for a protein of 105 amino acids with a molecular weight of 11,441. The predicted protein product appears to have two domains, one consisting of seven hydrophobic proline-rich pentameric repeats and the other consisting of five alkaline trimeric repeats. Southern blot analysis has revealed vrg-6-homologous sequences in the chromosomes of Bordetella bronchiseptica and Bordetella parapertussis, but, unlike Bordetella pertussis, these species do not express vrg-6-homologous RNA when grown under modulating conditions. In order to assess the role of vrg gene products in B. pertussis pathogenesis, two 18323 derivatives which harbor TnphoA insertions in vrg genes were analyzed in a mouse model of respiratory infection. Strain SK6, which carries a vrg-6::TnphoA mutation, failed to induce lymphocytosis and was significantly less able to colonize lungs and trachea than its parent strain 18323 or than SK18, which harbors a TnphoA fusion in the vrg-18 locus. This is the first evidence that a vir-repressed gene may play an important role in the virulence of B. pertussis and the pathogenesis of whooping cough.
Project description:Five TnphoA fusions to vir-repressed genes (vrg genes) have been identified in the respiratory pathogen Bordetella pertussis. A comparison of vrg DNA sequences suggests a consensus DNA element within the coding regions of four of five vrg genes. To determine the role of this DNA sequence in vrg regulation, a nucleotide substitution mutation in the conserved region of vrg-6 was isolated. This mutant showed constitutively high levels of expression in the absence of antigenic modulators, MgSO4 and nicotinic acid, suggesting that this DNA element may be a control site for vrg repression. Moreover, Northern (RNA) analysis and transcriptional fusion analysis suggest that vrg genes are regulated at the transcriptional level. To determine whether sequences in the coding region were sufficient to respond to antigenic modulation, a vrg-6::TnphoA promoter deletion plasmid that contained a heterologous promoter driving the expression of vrg-6 coding sequences from the vrg-6 translation start site to the TnphoA fusion junction was constructed. This heterologous construct responded to modulators in a vir-dependent fashion, indicating that sequences upstream of the coding sequence are not required for antigenic modulation. Southwestern (DNA-protein) analysis and mutational studies suggest that the vrg consensus DNA sequence is specifically recognized by a 34-kDa vir-activated gene (vag) product, whose binding results in down-regulation of vrg transcript levels. We conclude, at least for the vrg::TnphoA fusion strains, that a site on the DNA that corresponds to a consensus sequence located in the vrg coding region is sufficient to confer the transcriptional regulation (repression) of vrg genes when B. pertussis strains are grown under nonmodulating conditions.
Project description:The DNA sequence of the central regulatory locus vir of Bordetella pertussis predicts that three gene products, BvgA, BvgB, and BvgC, are encoded. Features of the predicted primary structures of these proteins and their homology to other two-component systems suggest that BvgA is located in the cytoplasm, BvgB is located in the periplasm, and BvgC spans the inner membrane. We have used gene fusions to the phoA and lacZ genes of Escherichia coli to investigate the subcellular localization and membrane topology of these proteins. PhoA fusion proteins were also purified and used to raise antibodies that allowed visualization of the vir-encoded polypeptides by Western immunoblotting. Our results have largely confirmed the predictions of the DNA sequence, with the exception that BvgB and BvgC were found to constitute one larger protein that was homologous to the sensor class of two-component systems. We propose that this protein be named BvgS (for sensor) and that its gene be named bvgS.
Project description:The two-component response regulator RisA, encoded by open reading frame BP3554 in the Bordetella pertussis Tohama I genomic sequence, is a known activator of vrg genes, a set of genes whose expression is increased under the same environmental conditions (known as modulation) that result in repression of the bvgAS virulence regulon. Here we demonstrate that RisA is phosphorylated in vivo and that RisA phosphorylation is required for activation of vrg genes. An adjacent histidine kinase gene, risS, is truncated by frameshift mutation in B. pertussis but not in Bordetella bronchiseptica or Bordetella parapertussis Neither deletion of risS' or bvgAS nor phenotypic modulation with MgSO4 affected levels of phosphorylated RisA (RisA?P) in B. pertussis However, RisA phosphorylation did require the histidine kinase encoded by BP3223, here named RisK (cognate histidine kinase of RisA). RisK was also required for expression of the vrg genes. This requirement could be obviated by the introduction of the phosphorylation-mimicking RisAD60E mutant, indicating that an active conformation of RisA, but not phosphorylation per se, is crucial for vrg activation. Interestingly, expression of vrg genes is still modulated by MgSO4 in cells harboring the RisAD60E mutation, suggesting that the activated RisA senses additional signals to control vrg expression in response to environmental stimuli.IMPORTANCE In B. pertussis, the BvgAS two-component system activates the expression of virulence genes by binding of BvgA?P to their promoters. Expression of the reciprocally regulated vrg genes requires RisA and is also repressed by the Bvg-activated BvgR. RisA is an OmpR-like response regulator, but RisA phosphorylation was not expected because the gene for its presumed, cooperonic, histidine kinase is inactivated by mutation. In this study, we demonstrate phosphorylation of RisA in vivo by a noncooperonic histidine kinase. We also show that RisA phosphorylation is necessary but not sufficient for vrg activation but, importantly, is not affected by BvgAS status. Instead, we propose that vrg expression is controlled by BvgAS through its regulation of BvgR, a cyclic di-GMP (c-di-GMP) phosphodiesterase.
Project description:Bordetella pertussis regulates the production of its virulence factors by the two-component system BvgAS. In the virulence phase, BvgS phosphorylates BvgA, which then activates the transcription of virulence-activated genes (vags). In the avirulence phase, such as during growth in the presence of MgSO4, BvgA is not phosphorylated and the vags are not expressed. Instead, a set of virulence-repressed genes (vrgs) is expressed. Here, we performed transcriptome sequencing (RNAseq) analyses on B. pertussis cultivated with or without MgSO4 and on a BvgA-deficient Tohama I derivative. We observed that 146 genes were less expressed under modulating conditions or in the BvgA-deficient strain than under the nonmodulating condition, while 130 genes were more expressed. Some of the genes code for proteins with regulatory functions, suggesting a BvgA/S regulation cascade. To determine which genes are directly regulated by BvgA, we performed chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIPseq) analyses. We identified 148 BvgA-binding sites, 91 within putative promoter regions, 52 within open reading frames, and 5 in noncoding regions. Among the former, 32 are in BvgA-regulated putative promoter regions. Some vags, such as dnt and fhaL, contain no BvgA-binding site, suggesting indirect BvgA regulation. Unexpectedly, BvgA also bound to some vrg putative promoter regions. Together, these observations indicate an unrecognized complexity of BvgA/S biology.IMPORTANCE Bordetella pertussis, the etiological agent of whooping cough, remains a major global health problem. Despite the global usage of whole-cell vaccines since the 1950s and of acellular vaccines in the 1990s, it still is one of the most prevalent vaccine-preventable diseases in industrialized countries. Virulence of B. pertussis is controlled by BvgA/S, a two-component system responsible for upregulation of virulence-activated genes (vags) and downregulation of virulence-repressed genes (vrgs). By transcriptome sequencing (RNAseq) analyses, we identified more than 270 vags or vrgs, and chromatin immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIPseq) analyses revealed 148 BvgA-binding sites, 91 within putative promoter regions, 52 within open reading frames, and 5 in noncoding regions. Some vags, such as dnt and fhaL, do not contain a BvgA-binding site, suggesting indirect regulation. In contrast, several vrgs and some genes not identified by RNAseq analyses under laboratory conditions contain strong BvgA-binding sites, indicating previously unappreciated complexities of BvgA/S biology.
Project description:Bordetella pertussis, the causative agent of whooping cough, produces a wide array of factors that are associated with its ability to cause disease. The expression and regulation of these virulence factors is dependent upon the bvg locus (originally designated the vir locus), which encodes two proteins: BvgA, a 23-kDa cytoplasmic protein, and BvgS, a 135-kDa transmembrane protein. It is proposed that BvgS responds to environmental signals and interacts with BvgA, a transcriptional regulator which upon modification by BvgS binds to specific promoters and activates transcription. An additional class of genes is repressed by the bvg locus. Expression of this class, the bvg-repressed genes (vrgs [for vir-repressed genes]), is reduced under conditions in which expression of the aforementioned bvg-activated virulence factors is maximal; this repression is dependent upon the presence of an intact bvgAS locus. We have previously identified a locus required for regulation of all of the known bvg-repressed genes in B. pertussis. This locus, designated bvgR, maps to a location immediately downstream of bvgAS. We have undertaken deletion and complementation studies, as well as sequence analysis, in order to identify the bvgR open reading frame and identify the cis-acting sequences required for regulated expression of bvgR. Studies utilizing transcriptional fusions of bvgR to the gene encoding alkaline phosphatase have demonstrated that bvgR is activated at the level of transcription and that this activation is dependent upon an intact bvgAS locus.
Project description:Bordetella pertussis expresses a bvg-regulated 95-kDa protein, Vag8, encoded by vag-8. Southern blot analysis indicates that strains of Bordetella bronchiseptica and Bordetella parapertussis have DNA homologous to vag-8. Antiserum raised to a fusion of maltose binding protein to an N-terminal 60-kDa fragment of Vag8 recognizes the native 95-kDa protein in immunoblots of B. pertussis and B. bronchiseptica but not B. parapertussis. A 95-kDa protein-negative derivative of B. pertussis 18323 containing a deletion of vag-8 colonized mice as efficiently as the parent B. pertussis strain in a mouse aerosol model of pertussis.
Project description:In Bordetella pertussis, two serologically distinct fimbriae, FIM2 and FIM3, undergo on/off phase variation independently of each other via variation in the lengths of C stretches in the promoters for their major subunit genes, fim2 and fim3 These two promoters are also part of the BvgAS virulence regulon and therefore, if in an on configuration, are activated by phosporylated BvgA (BvgA~P) under normal growth conditions (Bvg+ mode) but not in the Bvg- mode, inducible by growth in medium containing MgSO4 or other compounds, termed modulators. In the B. pertussis Tohama I strain (FIM2+ FIM3-), the fim3 promoter is in the off state. However, a high level of transcription of the fim3 gene is observed in the Bvg- mode. In this study, we provide an explanation for this anomalous behavior by defining a Bvg-repressed promoter (BRP), located approximately 400 bp upstream of the Pfim3 transcriptional start. Although transcription of the fim3 gene in the Bvg- mode resulted in Fim3 translation, as measured by LacZ translational fusions, no accumulation of Fim3 protein was detectable. We propose that Fim3 protein resulting from translation of mRNA driven by BRP in the Bvg- mode is unstable due to a lack of the fimbrial assembly apparatus encoded by the fimBC genes, located within the fha operon, and therefore is not expressed in the Bvg- mode.IMPORTANCE In Bordetella pertussis, the promoter Pfim3-15C for the major fimbrial subunit gene fim3 is activated by the two-component system BvgAS in the Bvg+ mode but not in the Bvg- mode. However, many transcriptional profiling studies have shown that fim3 is transcribed in the Bvg- mode even when Pfim3 is in a nonpermissive state (Pfim3-13C), suggesting the presence of a reciprocally regulated element upstream of Pfim3 Here, we provide evidence that BRP is the cause of this anomalous behavior of fim3 Although BRP effects vrg-like transcription of fim3 in the Bvg- mode, it does not lead to stable production of FIM3 fimbriae, because expression of the chaperone and usher proteins FimB and FimC occurs only in the Bvg+ mode.
Project description:Nearly all virulence factors in Bordetella pertussis are activated by a master two-component system, BvgAS, composed of the sensor kinase BvgS and the response regulator BvgA. When BvgS is active, BvgA is phosphorylated (BvgA~P), and virulence-activated genes (vags) are expressed [Bvg(+) mode]. When BvgS is inactive and BvgA is not phosphorylated, virulence-repressed genes (vrgs) are induced [Bvg(-) mode]. Here, we have used transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) and reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) to define the BvgAS-dependent regulon of B. pertussis Tohama I. Our analyses reveal more than 550 BvgA-regulated genes, of which 353 are newly identified. BvgA-activated genes include those encoding two-component systems (such as kdpED), multiple other transcriptional regulators, and the extracytoplasmic function (ECF) sigma factor brpL, which is needed for type 3 secretion system (T3SS) expression, further establishing the importance of BvgA~P as an apex regulator of transcriptional networks promoting virulence. Using in vitro transcription, we demonstrate that the promoter for brpL is directly activated by BvgA~P. BvgA-FeBABE cleavage reactions identify BvgA~P binding sites centered at positions -41.5 and -63.5 in bprL Most importantly, we show for the first time that genes for multiple and varied metabolic pathways are significantly upregulated in the B. pertussis Bvg(-) mode. These include genes for fatty acid and lipid metabolism, sugar and amino acid transporters, pyruvate dehydrogenase, phenylacetic acid degradation, and the glycolate/glyoxylate utilization pathway. Our results suggest that metabolic changes in the Bvg(-) mode may be participating in bacterial survival, transmission, and/or persistence and identify over 200 new vrgs that can be tested for function.IMPORTANCE Within the past 20 years, outbreaks of whooping cough, caused by Bordetella pertussis, have led to respiratory disease and infant mortalities, despite good vaccination coverage. This is due, at least in part, to the introduction of a less effective acellular vaccine in the 1990s. It is crucial, then, to understand the molecular basis of B. pertussis growth and infection. The two-component system BvgA (response regulator)/BvgS (histidine kinase) is the master regulator of B. pertussis virulence genes. We report here the first RNA-seq analysis of the BvgAS regulon in B. pertussis, revealing that more than 550 genes are regulated by BvgAS. We show that genes for multiple and varied metabolic pathways are highly regulated in the Bvg(-) mode (absence of BvgA phosphorylation). Our results suggest that metabolic changes in the Bvg(-) mode may be participating in bacterial survival, transmission, and/or persistence.
Project description:The whooping cough agent Bordetella pertussis regulates the production of its virulence factors by the BvgA/S system. Phosphorylated BvgA activates the virulence-activated genes (vags) and represses the expression of the virulence-repressed genes (vrgs) via the activation of the bvgR gene. In modulating conditions, with MgSO4, the BvgA/S system is inactive, and the vrgs are expressed. Here, we show that the expression of almost all vrgs depends on RisA, another transcriptional regulator. We also show that some vags are surprisingly no longer modulated by MgSO4 in the risA(-) background. RisA also regulates the expression of other genes, including chemotaxis and flagellar operons, iron-regulated genes, and genes of unknown function, which may or may not be controlled by BvgA/S. We identified RisK as the likely cognate RisA kinase and found that it is important for expression of most, but not all RisA-regulated genes. This was confirmed using the phosphoablative RisAD(60)N and the phosphomimetic RisAD(60)E analogues. Thus the RisA regulon adds a new layer of complexity to B. pertussis virulence gene regulation.
Project description:Polysaccharide (PS) capsules are important virulence determinants for many bacterial pathogens. Bordetella pertussis, the agent of whooping cough, produces a surface associated microcapsule but its role in pertussis pathogenesis remained unknown. Here we showed that the B. pertussis capsule locus is expressed in vivo in murine lungs and that absence of the membrane-associated protein KpsT, involved in the transport of the PS polymers across the envelope, but not the surface-exposed PS capsule itself, affects drastically B. pertussis colonization efficacy in mice. Microarray analysis revealed that absence of KpsT in B. pertussis resulted in global down-regulation of gene expression including key virulence genes regulated by BvgA/S, the master two-component system. Using a BvgS phase-locked mutant, we demonstrated a functional link between KpsT and BvgA/S-mediated signal transduction. Whereas pull-down assays do not support physical interaction between BvgS sensor and any of the capsule locus encoded proteins, absence of KpsT impaired BvgS oligomerization, necessary for BvgS function. Furthermore, complementation studies indicated that instead of KpsT alone, the entire PS capsule transport machinery spanning the cell envelope likely plays a role in BvgS-mediated signal transduction. Our work thus provides the first experimental evidence of a role for a virulence-repressed gene in pertussis pathogenesis.