Shigella species Gram-negative bacteria which cause a diarrheal disease, known as shigellosis, by invading and destroying the colonic mucosa and inducing a robust inflammatory response. With no vaccine available, shigellosis annually kills over 600,000 children in developing countries. This study demonstrates the utility of combining high-throughput bioinformatic methods with in vitro and in vivo assays to provide new insights into pathogenesis. Comparisons of in vivo and in vitro gene expression identified genes associated with intracellular growth. Additional bioinformatics analyses identified genes that are present in S. flexneri isolates but not in the three other Shigella species. Comparison of these two analyses revealed nine genes that are differentially expressed during invasion and that are specific to S. flexneri. One gene, a DeoR family transcriptional regulator with decreased expression during invasion, was further characterized and is now designated icgR, for intracellular growth regulator. Deletion of icgR caused no difference in growth in vitro but resulted in increased intracellular replication in HCT-8 cells. Further in vitro and in vivo studies using high-throughput sequencing of RNA transcripts (RNA-seq) of an isogenic ΔicgR mutant identified 34 genes that were upregulated under both growth conditions. This combined informatics and functional approach has allowed the characterization of a gene and pathway previously unknown in Shigella pathogenesis and provides a framework for further identification of novel virulence factors and regulatory pathways.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases