An improved recombination-based in vivo expression technology-like reporter system reveals differential cyaA gene activation in Bordetella species.

Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella bronchiseptica rely on the global two-component regulatory system BvgAS to control expression of distinct phenotypic phases. In the Bvg(-) phase, expression of vrg genes, including those required for motility in B. bronchiseptica, is activated and genes encoding virulence factors are not expressed. Conversely, in the Bvg(+) phase, genes encoding virulence factors are highly expressed while genes necessary for motility are repressed. Although several genetic analyses have demonstrated the importance of the Bvg(+) phase during respiratory infection, Bvg-regulated gene activation in B. bronchiseptica has not been investigated in vivo. To address this, we developed a plasmid, pGFLIP, that encodes a sensitive Flp recombinase-based fluorescent reporter system able to document gene activation both in vitro and in vivo. Using pGFLIP, we demonstrated that cyaA, considered to be a “late” Bvg(+) phase gene, is activated substantially earlier in B. bronchiseptica than B. pertussisfollowing a switch from Bvg(-) to Bvg(+) phase conditions. We show that the altered activation of cyaA is not due to differences in the cyaA promoter or in the bvgAS alleles of B. bronchiseptica compared to B. pertussis, but appears to be species specific. Finally, we used pGFLIP to show that flaA remains repressed during infection, confirming that B. bronchiseptica does not modulate to the Bvg(-) phase in vivo.

Authors:Byrd MSMason EHenderson MWScheller EVCotter PA.

Journal:Infect Immun. 2013