Send to

Choose Destination
Appl Environ Microbiol. 2017 May 31;83(12). pii: e00185-17. doi: 10.1128/AEM.00185-17. Print 2017 Jun 15.

The Global Transcription Factor Lrp Is both Essential for and Inhibitory to Xenorhabdus nematophila Insecticidal Activity.

Author information

Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA.
Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Department of Microbiology, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, Knoxville, Tennessee, USA.


In the entomopathogenic bacterium Xenorhabdus nematophila, cell-to-cell variation in the abundance of the Lrp transcription factor leads to virulence modulation; low Lrp levels are associated with a virulent phenotype and suppression of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in Manduca sexta insects, while cells that lack lrp or express high Lrp levels are virulence attenuated and elicit AMP expression. To better understand the basis of these phenotypes, we examined X. nematophila strains expressing fixed Lrp levels. Unlike the lrp-null mutant, the high-lrp strain is fully virulent in Drosophila melanogaster, suggesting that these two strains have distinct underlying causes of virulence attenuation in M. sexta Indeed, the lrp-null mutant was defective in cytotoxicity against M. sexta hemocytes relative to that in the high-lrp and low-lrp strains. Further, supernatant derived from the lrp-null mutant but not from the high-lrp strain was defective in inhibiting weight gain when fed to 1st instar M. sexta These data suggest that contributors to the lrp-null mutant virulence attenuation phenotype are the lack of Lrp-dependent cytotoxic and extracellular oral growth inhibitory activities, which may be particularly important for virulence in D. melanogaster In contrast, the high-Lrp strain was sensitive to the antimicrobial peptide cecropin, had a transient survival defect in M. sexta, and had reduced extracellular levels of insecticidal activity, measured by injection of supernatant into 4th instar M. sexta Thus, high-lrp strain virulence attenuation may be explained by its hypersensitivity to M. sexta host immunity and its inability to secrete one or more insecticidal factors.IMPORTANCE Adaptation of a bacterial pathogen to host environments can be achieved through the coordinated regulation of virulence factors that can optimize success under prevailing conditions. In the insect pathogen Xenorhabdus nematophila, the global transcription factor Lrp is necessary for virulence when injected into Manduca sexta or Drosophila melanogaster insect hosts. However, high levels of Lrp, either naturally occurring or artificially induced, cause attenuation of X. nematophila virulence in M. sexta but not D. melanogaster Here, we present evidence suggesting that the underlying cause of high-Lrp-dependent virulence attenuation in M. sexta is hypersensitivity to host immune responses and decreased insecticidal activity and that high-Lrp virulence phenotypes are insect host specific. This knowledge suggests that X. nematophila faces varied challenges depending on the type of insect host it infects and that its success in these environments depends on Lrp-dependent control of a multifactorial virulence repertoire.


bacterial pathogenesis; entomopathogen; invertebrate immunity; leucine-responsive regulatory protein

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center