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Tuberculosis (Edinb). 2009 Jul;89(4):310-6. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2009 Jul 3.

The DosR regulon of M. tuberculosis and antibacterial tolerance.

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Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, University of Colorado Denver, P18-9115, 12800 East 19th Avenue, PO Box 6511, Aurora, CO 80045, USA.


Adaptation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to an anaerobic dormant state that is tolerant to several antibacterials is mediated largely by a set of highly expressed genes controlled by DosR. A DosR mutant was constructed to investigate whether the DosR regulon is involved in antibacterial tolerance. We demonstrate that induction of the regulon is not required for drug tolerance either in vivo during a mouse infection or in vitro during anaerobic dormancy. Thus, drug tolerance observed in these models is due to other mechanisms such as the bacilli simply being in a non-replicating or low metabolic state. Our data also demonstrate that the DosR regulon is not essential for virulence during chronic murine infection. However, decreased lung pathology was observed in the DosR mutant. We also show that the DosR regulon genes are more highly conserved in environmental mycobacteria, than in pathogenic mycobacteria lacking a latent phase or environmental reservoir. It is possible that the DosR regulon could contribute to drug tolerance in human infections; however, it is not the only mechanism and not the primary mechanism for tolerance during a mouse infection. These data suggest that the regulon evolved not for pathogenesis or drug tolerance but for adaptation to anaerobic conditions in the environment and has been adapted by M. tuberculosis for survival during latent infection.

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