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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Oct 13;106(41):17522-7. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0906160106. Epub 2009 Oct 1.

Increased expression of Mg(2+) transport proteins enhances the survival of Salmonella enterica at high temperature.

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Department of Biological Sciences, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN 47907, USA.


Mg(2+) homeostasis is important for Salmonella pathogenesis. In Salmonella enterica, the transcription of the mgtA gene, which encodes a Mg(2+) transporter, is regulated by a Mg(2+)-sensing riboswitch [Cromie MJ, Shi Y, Latifi T, Groisman EA (2006) Cell 125:71-84]. In a genetic analysis of the determinants of thermotolerance in S. enterica serovar Typhimurium, we isolated the chr-1 mutation that increased the resistance of exponential phase cells to killing by high temperature. This mutation is a single base change in the mgtA riboswitch that causes high-level constitutive expression of mgtA. We showed that another mgtA riboswitch mutation, DeltaUTR(re-100), which had been constructed by Cromie et al., also confers similar increased thermotolerance. Surprisingly, the chr-1 mutation is located at a position that would not be predicted to be important for the regulatory function of the riboswitch. We obtained physiological evidence suggesting that the chr-1 mutation increases the cytosolic free Mg(2+) concentration. High-level expression of the heterologous MgtE Mg(2+) transport protein of Bacillus subtilis also enhanced the thermotolerance of S. enterica. We hypothesize that increased Mg(2+) accumulation might enhance thermotolerance by protecting the integrity of proteins or membranes, by mitigating oxidative damage or acting as an inducer of thermoprotective functions.

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