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Microbiology. 2003 Jun;149(Pt 6):1423-1435. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.26245-0.

The senX3-regX3 two-component regulatory system of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is required for virulence.

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Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London WC1E 7HT, UK.
Department of Medical Microbiology, Barts and the London, Queen Mary's School of Medicine and Dentistry, Turner Street, London E1 2AD, UK.
GlaxoSmithKline, Gunnels Wood Road, Stevenage, Hertfordshire SG1 2NY, UK.
Department of Pathology and Infectious Diseases, Royal Veterinary College, Royal College Street, London NW1 0TU, UK.


Two-component regulatory systems have been widely implicated in bacterial virulence. To investigate the role of one such system in Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a strain was constructed in which the senX3-regX3 system was deleted by homologous recombination. The mutant strain (Tame15) showed a growth defect after infection of macrophages and was attenuated in both immunodeficient and immunocompetent mice. Competitive hybridization of total RNA from the wild-type and mutant strains to a whole-genome microarray was used to identify changes in gene expression resulting from the deletion. One operon was highly up-regulated in the mutant, indicating that regX3 probably has a role as a repressor of this operon. Other genes which were up- or down-regulated were also identified. Many of the genes showing down-regulation are involved in normal growth of the bacterium, indicating that the mutant strain is subject to some type of growth slow-down or stress. Genes showing differential expression were further grouped according to their pattern of gene expression under other stress conditions. From this analysis 50 genes were identified which are the most likely to be controlled by RegX3. Most of these genes are of unknown function and no obvious motifs were found upstream of the genes identified. Thus, it has been demonstrated that the senX3-regX3 two-component system is involved in the virulence of M. tuberculosis and a number of genes controlled by this system have been identified.

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