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Mycobacterium tuberculosis RNA expression patterns in sputum bacteria indicate secreted Esx factors contributing to growth are highly expressed in active disease.

Bukka A., Price C.T., Kernodle D.S., Graham J.E.

To identify factors contributing to the ability of tubercle bacilli to grow in the lung during active infection, we analyzed RNA expression patterns in bacteria present in patient sputum. Prominent among bacterial transcripts identified were those encoding secreted peptides of the Esat-6 subfamily that includes EsxK and EsxL (Rv1197 and Rv1198). H37Rv esxKL and esxJI transcripts were differentially expressed under different growth conditions, and disruption of these genes altered growth phase kinetics in typical laboratory batch broth cultures. These growth defects, including the reduced intracellular growth of an ΔesxKL mutant in primary human macrophages, were reversed by either low multiplicity co-infection or co-culture with wild-type bacteria, demonstrating the ability of the secreted factors to rescue isogenic mutants. Complementing either only esxL or esxI alone (Rv1198 or Rv1037c) also reduced observed growth defects, indicating these genes encode factors capable of contributing to growth. Our studies indicate that the Mycobacterium tuberculosis Mtb9.9 family secreted factors EsxL and EsxI can act in trans to modulate growth of intracellular bacteria, and are highly expressed during active human lung infection.

Front. Microbiol. 2:266-266(2011) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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