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Cell Host Microbe. 2007 Oct 11;2(4):264-77.

Genes induced late in infection increase fitness of Vibrio cholerae after release into the environment.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and the Department of Molecular Biology and Microbiology, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA 02111, USA.


The facultative pathogen Vibrio cholerae can exist in both the human small bowel and in aquatic environments. While investigation of the infection process has revealed many factors important for pathogenesis, little is known regarding transmission of this or other water-borne pathogens. Using a temporally controlled reporter of transcription, we focus on bacterial gene expression during the late stage of infection and identify a unique class of V. cholerae genes specific to this stage. Mutational analysis revealed limited roles for these genes in infection. However, using a host-to-environment transition assay, we detected roles for six of ten genes examined for the ability of V. cholerae to persist within cholera stool and/or aquatic environments. Furthermore, passage through the intestinal tract was necessary to observe this phenotype. Thus, V. cholerae genes expressed prior to exiting the host intestinal tract are advantageous for subsequent life in aquatic environments.

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