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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2003 Dec;69(12):7480-91.

Single-copy green fluorescent protein gene fusions allow accurate measurement of Salmonella gene expression in vitro and during infection of mammalian cells.

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  • 1Molecular Microbiology Group, Institute of Food Research, Norwich NR4 7UA, United Kingdom.


We developed a reliable and flexible green fluorescent protein (GFP)-based system for measuring gene expression in individual bacterial cells. Until now, most systems have relied upon plasmid-borne gfp gene fusions, risking problems associated with plasmid instability. We show that a recently developed GFP variant, GFP+, is suitable for assessing bacterial gene expression. Various gfp+ transcriptional fusions were constructed and integrated as single copies into the chromosome of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. A comparison of the expression levels of proU-lacZ and proU-gfp+ fusions showed that GFP+ reported proU activity in individual Salmonella cells as accurately as beta-galactosidase reported activity for entire populations. The single-copy gfp+ fusions were ideal for monitoring up- and downregulation of Salmonella virulence genes. We discovered that in vitro induction of the SPI1gene prgH occurs only in a portion of the population and that the proportion varies with the growth phase. We determined the level of expression of the SPI2 gene ssaG in bacteria released from murine macrophages. Our results demonstrate for the first time that single-copy GFP+ fusions reliably report gene expression in simple and complex environments. This approach promises to allow accurate measurement of gene expression in individual bacteria during animal infection.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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