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Infect Immun. 2014 Mar;82(3):1132-40. doi: 10.1128/IAI.01614-13. Epub 2013 Dec 23.

Novel role for the yceGH tellurite resistance genes in the pathogenesis of Bacillus anthracis.

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  • 1Department of Biology, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas, USA.


Bacillus anthracis, the causative agent of anthrax, relies on multiple virulence factors to subvert the host immune defense. Using Caenorhabditis elegans as an infection model, we screened approximately 5,000 transposon mutants of B. anthracis Sterne for decreased virulence. One of the attenuated mutants resulted in loss of expression of yceG and yceH, the last two genes in a six-gene cluster of tellurite resistance genes. We generated an analogous insertional mutant to confirm the phenotype and characterize the role of yceGH in resistance to host defenses. Loss of yceGH rendered the mutants more sensitive to tellurite toxicity as well as to host defenses such as reactive oxygen species and the cathelicidin family of antimicrobial peptides. Additionally, we see decreased survival in mammalian models of infection, including human whole blood and in mice. We identify a novel role for the yceGH genes in B. anthracis Sterne virulence and suggest that C. elegans is a useful infection model to study anthrax pathogenesis.

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