Main content area

Identification of Novel Listeria monocytogenes Secreted Virulence Factors following Mutational Activation of the Central Virulence Regulator, PrfA

Port, Gary C., Freitag, Nancy E.
Infection and immunity 2007 v.75 no.12 pp. 5886-5897
Listeria monocytogenes, alleles, amino acid substitution, cytosol, mammals, mass spectrometry, mutants, pathogenesis, plasmids, proteins, secretion, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, virulence
Upon bacterial entry into the cytosol of infected mammalian host cells, the central virulence regulator PrfA of Listeria monocytogenes becomes activated and induces the expression of numerous factors which contribute to bacterial pathogenesis. The mechanism or signal by which PrfA becomes activated during the course of infection has not yet been determined; however, several amino acid substitutions within PrfA (known as PrfA* mutations) that appear to lock the protein into a constitutively activated state have been identified. In this study, the PrfA activation statuses of several L. monocytogenes mutant strains were subjected to direct isogenic comparison and the mutant with the highest activity, the prfA(L140F) mutant, was identified. The prfA(L140F) strain was subsequently used as a tool to identify gene products secreted as a result of PrfA activation. By use of two-dimensional gel electrophoresis followed by liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization-tandem mass spectroscopy analyses, 15 proteins were identified as up-regulated in the prfA(L140F) secretome, while the secretion of two proteins was found to be reduced. Although some of the proteins identified were known to be subject to direct regulation by PrfA, the majority have not previously been associated with PrfA regulation and their expression or secretion may be influenced indirectly by a PrfA-dependent regulatory pathway. Plasmid insertion inactivation of the genes encoding four novel secreted products indicated that three of the four have significant roles in L. monocytogenes virulence. The use of mutationally activated prfA alleles therefore provides a useful approach towards identifying gene products that contribute to L. monocytogenes pathogenesis.