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Cell Microbiol. 2008 Apr;10(4):958-84. Epub 2007 Nov 20.

During infection of epithelial cells Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium undergoes a time-dependent transcriptional adaptation that results in simultaneous expression of three type 3 secretion systems.

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Molecular Microbiology Group, Institute of Food Research, Norwich NR4 7UA, UK.


The biogenesis of the Salmonella-containing vacuole within mammalian cells has been intensively studied over recent years. However, the ability of Salmonella to sense and adapt to the intracellular environment of different types of host cells has received much less attention. To address this issue, we report the transcriptome of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium SL1344 within epithelial cells and show comparisons with Salmonella gene expression inside macrophages. We report that S. Typhimurium expresses a characteristic intracellular transcriptomic signature in response to the environments it encounters within different cell types. The signature involves the upregulation of the mgtBC, pstACS and iro genes for magnesium, phosphate and iron uptake, and Salmonella pathogenicity island 2 (SPI2). Surprisingly, in addition to SPI2, the invasion-associated SPI1 pathogenicity island and the genes involved in flagellar biosynthesis were expressed inside epithelial cells at later stages of the infection, while they were constantly downregulated in macrophage-like cells. To our knowledge, this is the first report of the simultaneous transcription of all three Type Three Secretion Systems (T3SS) within an intracellular Salmonella population. We discovered that S. Typhimurium strain SL1344 was strongly cytotoxic to epithelial cells after 6 h of infection and hypothesize that the time-dependent changes in Salmonella gene expression within epithelial cells reflects the bacterial response to host cells that have been injured by the infection process.

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