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Temperature-Dependent Production of Various PlcR-Controlled Virulence Factors in Bacillus weihenstephanensis Strain KBAB4

Réjasse, A., Gilois, N., Barbosa, I., Huillet, E., Bevilacqua, C., Tran, S., Ramarao, N., Stenfors Arnesen, L. P., Sanchis, V.
Applied and environmental microbiology 2012 v.78 no.8 pp. 2553-2561
Bacillus cereus, Bacillus weihenstephanensis, Galleria mellonella, cytotoxicity, epithelial cells, gene expression, genes, insect models, messenger RNA, mice, polymerase chain reaction, proteinases, proteins, temperature, transcription factors, two-dimensional gel electrophoresis, vegetative cells, virulence
The Bacillus cereus sensu lato complex has recently been divided into several phylogenetic groups with clear differences in growth temperature range. However, only a few studies have investigated the actual pathogenic potential of the psychrotolerant strains of the B. cereus group at low temperature, and little information is available concerning gene expression at low temperature. We found that vegetative cells of the psychrotolerant B. weihenstephanensis strain KBAB4 were pathogenic against the model insect Galleria mellonella at 15°C but not at 30°C. A similar temperature-dependent difference also was observed for the supernatant, which was cytotoxic to Vero epithelial cell lines and to murine macrophage J774 cells at 15°C but not at 30°C. We therefore determined the effect of low temperature on the production of various proteins putatively involved in virulence using two-dimensional protein gel electrophoresis, and we showed that the production of the Hbl enterotoxin and of two proteases, NprB and NprP2, was greater at a growth temperature of 15°C than at 30°C. The quantification of the mRNA levels for these virulence genes by real-time quantitative PCR at both temperatures showed that there was also more mRNA present at 15°C than at 30°C. We also found that at 15°C, hbl mRNA levels were maximal in the mid- to late exponential growth phase. In conclusion, we found that the higher virulence of the B. cereus KBAB4 strain at low temperature was accompanied by higher levels of the production of various known PlcR-controlled virulence factors and by a higher transcriptional activity of the corresponding genes.