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Front Microbiol. 2018 Jan 11;8:2656. doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2017.02656. eCollection 2017.

Investigation of the Role of Genes Encoding Zinc Exporters zntA, zitB, and fieF during Salmonella Typhimurium Infection.

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Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.
National Key Laboratory of Agricultural Microbiology, College of Life Science and Technology, Huazhong Agricultural University, Wuhan, China.
Institute of Environmental Microbiology, College of Resources and Environment, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, China.


The transition metal zinc is involved in crucial biological processes in all living organisms and is essential for survival of Salmonella in the host. However, little is known about the role of genes encoding zinc efflux transporters during Salmonella infection. In this study, we constructed deletion mutants for genes encoding zinc exporters (zntA, zitB, and fieF) in the wild-type (WT) strain Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) 4/74. The mutants 4/74ΔzntA and 4/74ΔzntA/zitB exhibited a dramatic growth delay and abrogated growth ability, respectively, in Luria Bertani medium supplemented with 0.25 mM ZnCl2 or 1.5 mM CuSO4 compared to the WT strain. In order to investigate the role of genes encoding zinc exporters on survival of S. Typhimurium inside cells, amoeba and macrophage infection models were used. No significant differences in uptake or survival were detected for any of the mutants compared to the WT during infection of amoebae. In natural resistance-associated macrophage protein 1 (Nramp1)-negative J774.1 murine macrophages, significantly higher bacterial counts were observed for the mutant strains 4/74ΔzntA and 4/74ΔzntA/zitB compared to the WT at 4 h post-infection although the fold net replication was similar between all the strains. All four tested mutants (4/74ΔzntA, 4/74ΔzitB, 4/74ΔfieF, and 4/74ΔzntA/zitB) showed enhanced intracellular survival capacity within the modified Nramp1-positive murine RAW264.7 macrophages at 20 h post-infection. The fold net replication was also significantly higher for 4/74ΔzntA, 4/74ΔzitB, and 4/74ΔzntA/zitB mutants compared to the WT. Intriguingly, the ability to survive and cause infection was significantly impaired in all the three mutants tested (4/74ΔzntA, 4/74ΔzitB, and 4/74ΔzntA/zitB) in C3H/HeN mice, particularly the double mutant 4/74ΔzntA/zitB was severely attenuated compared to the WT in all the three organs analyzed. These findings suggest that these genes encoding zinc exporters, especially zntA, contribute to the resistance of S. Typhimurium to zinc and copper stresses during infection.


S. Typhimurium; amoebae; infection; macrophages; mice; zinc export

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