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Int J Med Microbiol. 2004 Jul;294(1):15-25.

Reduced expression of the global regulator protein CsrA in Legionella pneumophila affects virulence-associated regulators and growth in Acanthamoeba castellanii.

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Department of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, University of Ulm, Robert-Koch-Str.8, D-8908I Uhn, Germany.


Legionella bacteria have a developmental cycle in which they go from existing in the aquatic environment to replicating inside eukaryotic host cells. The adaptation to the new environment requires an efficient regulatory system. Overexpression of CsrA, a global regulatory protein found in a variety of gram-negative bacteria has been shown to suppress virulence-associated traits in Legionella pneumophila. Since evidence resulting only from overproduction may not be sufficient to validate the role of a regulatory protein, a csrA mutant strain, CsrA(-), with a drastically reduced production of CsrA, was created. Using RNA slot blots and Western blotting it was shown that fliA and flaA, genes which contribute to flagellation, were expressed early in the mutant. Additionally, in CsrA(-) the levels of the stationary-phase sigma factor, RpoS, and a recently described regulator of virulence traits, LetE, were increased. Growth curves of CsrA(-) bacteria were delayed with pigment production occurring at the same OD578 but at reduced levels in the mutant. Replication ability of the CsrA(-) mutant in amoebae was also affected. Based on these results, we could show that CsrA is involved in the regulation of the bacterial switch from the replicative to the transmissible form.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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