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Environ Microbiol. 2012 Aug;14(8):2233-46. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-2920.2012.02766.x. Epub 2012 Apr 28.

CodY, a pleiotropic regulator, influences multicellular behaviour and efficient production of virulence factors in Bacillus cereus.

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Molecular Genetics Group, Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute, University of Groningen, Nijenborgh 7, 9747 AG Groningen, the Netherlands.


In response to nutrient limitation in the environment, the global transcriptional regulator CodY modulates various pathways in low G+C Gram-positive bacteria. In Bacillus subtilis CodY triggers adaptation to starvation by secretion of proteases coupled to the expression of amino acid transporters. Furthermore, it is involved in modulating survival strategies like sporulation, motility, biofilm formation, and CodY is also known to affect virulence factor production in pathogenic bacteria. In this study, the role of CodY in Bacillus cereus ATCC 14579, the enterotoxin-producing type strain, is investigated. A marker-less deletion mutant of codY (ΔcodY) was generated in B.cereus and the transcriptome changes were surveyed using DNA microarrays. Numerous genes involved in biofilm formation and amino acid transport and metabolism were upregulated and genes associated with motility and virulence were repressed upon deletion of codY. Moreover, we found that CodY is important for efficient production of toxins and for adapting from nutrient-rich to nutrient-limited growth conditions of B.cereus. In contrast, biofilm formation is highly induced in the ΔcodY mutant, suggesting that CodY represses biofilm formation. Together, these results indicate that CodY plays a crucial role in the growth and persistence of B.cereus in different environments such as soil, food, insect guts and the human body.

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