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Cell Microbiol. 2006 Aug;8(8):1241-52.

Intra-leukocyte expression of two-component systems in Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Anaplasma phagocytophilum and effects of the histidine kinase inhibitor closantel.

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Department of Veterinary Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH 43210, USA.


The two-component system (TCS) composed of a pair of a sensor histidine kinase and a response regulator, allows bacteria to sense signals and respond to changes in their environment through specific gene activation or repression. The present study examined TCS in the obligatory intracellular bacteria Ehrlichia chaffeensis and Anaplasma phagocytophilum, that cause human monocytic ehrlichiosis (HME) and human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA) respectively. The genomes of E. chaffeensis and A. phagocytophilum were each predicted to encode three pairs of TCSs. All six genes encoding three histidine kinases and three response regulators were expressed in both E. chaffeensis and A. phagocytophilum cultured in human leukocytes. Pretreatment of host cell-free E. chaffeensis or A. phagocytophilum with closantel, an inhibitor of histidine kinases, completely blocked the infection of host cells. Treatment of infected cells 1 day post infection with closantel cleared infection in dose-dependent manner. All six genes in E. chaffeensis were cloned, recombinant proteins were expressed, and polyclonal antibodies were produced. Double immunofluorescence labelling and Western blot analysis revealed that all six proteins were expressed in cell culture. Autokinase activities of the three recombinant histidine kinases from E. chaffeensis were inhibited by closantel in vitro. A number of E. chaffeensis genes, including the six TCS genes, were downregulated within 5-60 min post closantel treatment. These results suggest that these TCSs play an essential role in infection and survival of E. chaffeensis and A. phagocytophilum in human leukocytes.

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