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Infect Immun. 2005 Sep;73(9):5995-6004.

Bordetella pertussis risA, but not risS, is required for maximal expression of Bvg-repressed genes.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Alberta, 1-69 Medical Sciences Bldg., Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H7, Canada.


Expression of virulence determinants by Bordetella pertussis, the primary etiological agent of whooping cough, is regulated by the BvgAS two-component regulatory system. The role of a second two-component regulatory system, encoded by risAS, in this process is not defined. Here, we show that mutation of B. pertussis risA does not affect Bvg-activated genes or proteins. However, mutation of risA resulted in greatly diminished expression of Bvg-repressed antigens and decreased transcription of Bvg-repressed genes. In contrast, mutation of risS had no effect on the expression of Bvg-regulated molecules. Mutation of risA also resulted in decreased bacterial invasion in a HeLa cell model. However, decreased invasion could not be attributed to the decreased expression of Bvg-repressed products, suggesting that mutation of risA may affect the expression of a variety of genes. Unlike the risAS operons in B. parapertussis and B. bronchiseptica, B. pertussis risS is a pseudogene that encodes a truncated RisS sensor. Deletion of the intact part of the B. pertussis risS gene does not affect the expression of risA-dependent, Bvg-repressed genes. These observations suggest that RisA activation occurs through cross-regulation by a heterologous system.

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