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Infect Immun. 2001 Aug;69(8):5016-24.

Identification of Listeria monocytogenes in vivo-induced genes by fluorescence-activated cell sorting.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa 52242, USA. rlwilson@blue.weeg.uiowa.edu


Listeria monocytogenes is a gram-positive, intracellular, food-borne pathogen capable of causing severe infections in immunocompromised or pregnant individuals, as well as numerous animal species. Genetic analysis of Listeria pathogenesis has identified several genes which are crucial for virulence. The transcription of most of these genes has been shown to be induced upon entry of Listeria into the host cell. To identify additional genes that are induced in vivo and may be required for L. monocytogenes pathogenesis, a fluorescence-activated cell-sorting technique was initiated. Random fragments of the L. monocytogenes chromosome were cloned into a plasmid carrying a promoterless green fluorescent protein (GFP) gene, and the plasmids were transformed into the L. monocytogenes actA mutant DP-L1942. Fluorescence-activated cell sorting (FACS) was used to isolate L. monocytogenes clones that exhibited increased GFP expression within macrophage-like J774 cells but had relatively low levels of GFP expression when the bacteria were extracellular. Using this strategy, several genes were identified, including actA, that exhibited such an expression profile. In-frame deletions of two of these genes, one encoding the putative L. monocytogenes uracil DNA glycosylase (ung) and one encoding a protein with homology to the Bacillus subtilis YhdP hemolysin-like protein, were constructed and introduced into the chromosome of wild-type L. monocytogenes 10403s. The L. monocytogenes 10403s ung deletion mutant was not attenuated for virulence in mice, while the yhdP mutant exhibited a three- to sevenfold reduction in virulence.

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