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Annu Rev Microbiol. 2003;57:57-76. Epub 2003 May 1.

Brucella stationary-phase gene expression and virulence.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, East Carolina University School of Medicine, Greenville, North Carolina 27858-4354, USA. roopr@mail.ecu.edu

Abstract

The capacity of the Brucella spp. to establish and maintain long-term residence in the phagosomal compartment of host macrophages is critical to their ability to produce chronic infections in their mammalian hosts. The RNA binding protein host factor I (HF-I) encoded by the hfq gene is required for the efficient translation of the stationary-phase sigma factor RpoS in many bacteria, and a Brucella abortus hfq mutant displays a phenotype in vitro, which suggests that it has a generalized defect in stationary-phase physiology. The inability of the B. abortus hfq mutant to survive and replicate in a wild-type manner in cultured murine macrophages, and the profound attenuation displayed by this strain and its B. melitensis counterpart in experimentally infected animals indicate that stationary-phase physiology plays an essential role in the capacity of the brucellae to establish and maintain long-term intracellular residence in host macrophages. The nature of the Brucella HF-I-regulated genes that have been identified to date suggests that the corresponding gene products contribute to the remarkable capacity of the brucellae to resist the harsh environmental conditions they encounter during their prolonged residence in the phagosomal compartment.

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