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Mol Microbiol. 2015 Oct;98(2):318-28. doi: 10.1111/mmi.13123. Epub 2015 Aug 14.

A LysR-family transcriptional regulator required for virulence in Brucella abortus is highly conserved among the α-proteobacteria.

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Department of Biomedical Sciences and Pathobiology, Center for Molecular Medicine and Infectious Diseases, VA-MD College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, 24060, USA.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical Center, Rochester, NY, 14642, USA.


Small RNAs are principal elements of bacterial gene regulation and physiology. Two small RNAs in Brucella abortus, AbcR1 and AbcR2, are required for wild-type virulence. Examination of the abcR loci revealed the presence of a gene encoding a LysR-type transcriptional regulator flanking abcR2 on chromosome 1. Deletion of this lysR gene (bab1_1517) resulted in the complete loss of abcR2 expression while no difference in abcR1 expression was observed. The B. abortus bab1_1517 mutant strain was significantly attenuated in macrophages and mice, and bab1_1517 was subsequently named vtlR for virulence-associated transcriptional LysR-family regulator. Microarray analysis revealed three additional genes encoding small hypothetical proteins also under the control of VtlR. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays demonstrated that VtlR binds directly to the promoter regions of abcR2 and the three hypothetical protein-encoding genes, and DNase I footprint analysis identified the specific nucleotide sequence in these promoters that VtlR binds to and drives gene expression. Strikingly, orthologs of VtlR are encoded in a wide range of host-associated α-proteobacteria, and it is likely that the VtlR genetic system represents a common regulatory circuit critical for host-bacterium interactions.

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