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Microbiology. 2009 Feb;155(Pt 2):461-7. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.025700-0.

GFP plasmid-induced defects in Salmonella invasion depend on plasmid architecture, not protein expression.

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Department of Biochemistry, School of Medical Sciences, University of Bristol, Bristol BS8 1TD, UK.


We have investigated the impact of plasmids and GFP expression on invasion of cultured epithelial cells by Salmonella enterica Typhimurium strain SL1344. The invasiveness of SL1344 carrying plasmids derived from pBR322, encoding promoterless GFP or constitutively expressed rpsM-GFP, was compared under optimal growth conditions with that of SL1344(pBR322), unmodified SL1344 and a strain with chromosome-integrated rpsM-GFP. The strain carrying pBR322 exhibited normal invasion, but the presence of modified plasmids impaired invasiveness, and impairment was exacerbated by plasmid-encoded chloramphenicol resistance (CmR). Using a different antibiotic resistance marker, kanamycin (KmR), did not impair invasiveness. Despite the effect of plasmid-encoded CmR, the strain containing chromosomally encoded GFP, also carrying a CmR gene, was as invasive as the wild-type. To investigate the mechanism by which plasmid carriage decreases invasion, we monitored SPI-1 gene expression using prgH promoter activity as an index of SPI-1 activity. An SL1344 strain with a chromosome-integrated prgH::gfp reporter construct exhibited lower GFP expression during exponential phase when carrying plasmids incorporating CmR or gfp, mirroring invasion data. These data provide evidence that suppression of SPI-1 gene expression is a major factor in the loss of invasiveness associated with plasmid carriage. Our findings also indicate that some plasmids, especially those carrying CmR, should be used with caution, as virulence traits and gene expression may be affected by their presence. Integration of reporter proteins into the bacterial chromosome, however, appears to circumvent the adverse effects observed with plasmids.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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