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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1989 Jul;86(13):5054-8.

A two-component regulatory system (phoP phoQ) controls Salmonella typhimurium virulence.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115.


We have determined that Salmonella typhimurium strains with mutations in the positive regulatory locus phoP are markedly attenuated in virulence for BALB/c mice. The DNA sequence for the phoP locus indicates that it is composed of two genes present in an operon, termed phoP and phoQ. The deduced amino acid sequence of the phoP and phoQ gene products are highly similar to other members of bacterial two-component transcriptional regulators that respond to environmental stimuli. S. typhimurium strains with transposon insertions that create transcriptional and translational gene fusions that require phoP and phoQ for expression have been isolated and have different chromosomal locations, indicating that this system is a regulon. One of these fusion strains, containing a mutation in a gene termed pagC, has a virulence defect. Other strains, including those containing mutations in the phoN gene, encoding an acid phosphatase, have wild-type virulence. Strains with pagC, phoP, or phoQ mutations have decreased survival in cultured mouse macrophages. When used as live vaccines in mice, strains with phoP or phoQ mutations afford partial protection to subsequent challenge by wild-type S. typhimurium.

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