Clostridium perfringens causes clostridial myonecrosis or gas gangrene and produces several extracellular hydrolytic enzymes and toxins, many of which are regulated by the VirSR signal transduction system. The revR gene encodes a putative orphan response regulator that has similarity to the YycF (WalR), VicR, PhoB, and PhoP proteins from other Gram-positive bacteria. RevR appears to be a classical response regulator, with an N-terminal receiver domain and a C-terminal domain with a putative winged helix-turn-helix DNA binding region. To determine its functional role, a revR mutant was constructed by allelic exchange and compared to the wild type by microarray analysis. The results showed that more than 100 genes were differentially expressed in the mutant, including several genes involved in cell wall metabolism. The revR mutant had an altered cellular morphology; unlike the short rods observed with the wild type, the mutant cells formed long filaments. These changes were reversed upon complementation with a plasmid that carried the wild-type revR gene. Several genes encoding extracellular hydrolytic enzymes (sialidase, hyaluronidase, and α-clostripain) were differentially expressed in the revR mutant. Quantitative enzyme assays confirmed that these changes led to altered enzyme activity and that complementation restored the wild-type phenotype. Most importantly, the revR mutant was attenuated for virulence in the mouse myonecrosis model compared to the wild type and the complemented strains. These results provide evidence that RevR regulates virulence in C. perfringens; it is the first response regulator other than VirR to be shown to regulate virulence in this important pathogen.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases