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Infect Immun. 2013 Apr;81(4):1040-51. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01097-12. Epub 2013 Jan 14.

Diverse genetic regulon of the virulence-associated transcriptional regulator MucR in Brucella abortus 2308.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, East Carolina University School of Medicine, Greenville, North Carolina, USA.


The Ros-type regulator MucR is one of the few transcriptional regulators that have been linked to virulence in Brucella. Here, we show that a Brucella abortus in-frame mucR deletion strain exhibits a pronounced growth defect during in vitro cultivation and, more importantly, that the mucR mutant is attenuated in cultured macrophages and in mice. The genetic basis for the attenuation of Brucella mucR mutants has not been defined previously, but in the present study the genes regulated by MucR in B. abortus have been elucidated using microarray analysis and real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR). In B. abortus 2308, MucR regulates a wide variety of genes whose products may function in establishing and maintaining cell envelope integrity, polysaccharide biosynthesis, iron homeostasis, genome plasticity, and transcriptional regulation. Particularly notable among the MucR-regulated genes identified is arsR6 (nolR), which encodes a transcriptional regulator previously linked to virulence in Brucella melitensis 16 M. Importantly, electrophoretic mobility shift assays (EMSAs) determined that a recombinant MucR protein binds directly to the promoter regions of several genes repressed by MucR (including arsR6 [nolR]), and in Brucella, as in other alphaproteobacteria, MucR binds to its own promoter to repress expression of the gene that encodes it. Overall, these studies have uncovered the diverse genetic regulon of MucR in Brucella, and in doing so this work has begun to define the MucR-controlled genetic circuitry whose misregulation contributes to the virulence defect of Brucella mucR mutants.

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