NtrYX is a sensor-histidine kinase/response regulator two-component system that has had limited characterization in a small number of Alphaproteobacteria. Phylogenetic analysis of the response regulator NtrX showed that this two-component system is extensively distributed across the bacterial domain, and it is present in a variety of Betaproteobacteria, including the human pathogen Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Microarray analysis revealed that the expression of several components of the respiratory chain was reduced in an N. gonorrhoeae ntrX mutant compared to that in the isogenic wild-type (WT) strain 1291. These included the cytochrome c oxidase subunit (ccoP), nitrite reductase (aniA), and nitric oxide reductase (norB). Enzyme activity assays showed decreased cytochrome oxidase and nitrite reductase activities in the ntrX mutant, consistent with microarray data. N. gonorrhoeae ntrX mutants had reduced capacity to survive inside primary cervical cells compared to the wild type, and although they retained the ability to form a biofilm, they exhibited reduced survival within the biofilm compared to wild-type cells, as indicated by LIVE/DEAD staining. Analyses of an ntrX mutant in a representative alphaproteobacterium, Rhodobacter capsulatus, showed that cytochrome oxidase activity was also reduced compared to that in the wild-type strain SB1003. Taken together, these data provide evidence that the NtrYX two-component system may be a key regulator in the expression of respiratory enzymes and, in particular, cytochrome c oxidase, across a wide range of proteobacteria, including a variety of bacterial pathogens
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