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Cell. 1999 Jan 8;96(1):47-56.

Molecular mechanisms of bacterial virulence elucidated using a Pseudomonas aeruginosa-Caenorhabditis elegans pathogenesis model.

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Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston 02114, USA.


The human opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa strain PA14 kills Caenorhabditis elegans. Using systematic mutagenesis of PA14 to identify mutants that fail to kill C. elegans and a C. elegans mutant that lacks P-glycoproteins, we identified phenazines, secreted P. aeruginosa pigments, as one of the mediators of killing. Analysis of C. elegans mutants with altered responses to oxidative stress suggests that phenazines exert their toxic effects on C. elegans through the generation of reactive oxygen species. Finally, we show that phenazines and other P. aeruginosa factors required for C. elegans killing are also required for pathogenesis in plants and mice, illustrating that this model tackles the dual challenges of identifying bacterial virulence factors as well as host responses to them.

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