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Infect Immun. 2006 Oct;74(10):5848-59.

Effects of temperature on gene expression patterns in Leptospira interrogans serovar Lai as assessed by whole-genome microarrays.

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Department of Microbiology, Monash University, Victoria 3800, Australia.


Leptospirosis is an important zoonosis of worldwide distribution. Humans become infected via exposure to pathogenic Leptospira spp. from infected animals or contaminated water or soil. The availability of genome sequences for Leptospira interrogans, serovars Lai and Copenhageni, has opened up opportunities to examine global transcription profiles using microarray technology. Temperature is a key environmental factor known to affect leptospiral protein expression. Leptospira spp. can grow in artificial media at a range of temperatures reflecting conditions found in the environment and the mammalian host. Therefore, transcriptional changes were compared between cultures grown at 20 degrees C, 30 degrees C, 37 degrees C, and 39 degrees C to represent ambient temperatures in the environment, growth under laboratory conditions, and temperatures in healthy and febrile hosts. Data from direct pairwise comparisons of the four temperatures were consolidated to examine transcriptional changes at two generalized biological conditions representing mammalian physiological temperatures (37 degrees C and 39 degrees C) versus environmental temperatures (20 degrees C and 30 degrees C). Additionally, cultures grown at 30 degrees C then shifted overnight to 37 degrees C were compared with those grown long-term at 30 degrees C and 37 degrees C to identify genes potentially expressed in the early stages of infection. Comparison of data sets from physiological versus environmental experiments with upshift experiments provided novel insights into possible transcriptional changes at different stages of infection. Changes included differential expression of chemotaxis and motility genes, signal transduction systems, and genes encoding proteins involved in alteration of the outer membrane. These findings indicate that temperature is an important factor regulating expression of proteins that facilitate invasion and establishment of disease.

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