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Differential regulation of the leukotoxin operon in highly leukotoxic and minimally leukotoxic strains of Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans.

By M Hritz, E Fisher and D R Demuth


The expression of the leukotoxin (ltx) operon varies significantly among Actinobacillus actinomycetemcomitans strains. The dual promoters driving ltx expression in the highly toxic strain JP2 have been previously characterized (J. M. Brogan, E. T. Lally, K. Poulsen, M. Kilian, and D. R. Demuth, Infect. Immun. 62:501-508, 1994), and genetic analyses of A. actinomycetemcomitans suggest that highly toxic strains like JP2 arose from minimally toxic strains, presumably by deletion of a 530-bp domain within the ltx promoter region (K. Poulsen, E. Theilade, E.T. Lally, D. R. Demuth, and M. Kilian, Microbiology 140:2049-2060, 1994). However, the ltx promoter of minimally toxic A. actinomycetemcomitans strains has not been well characterized. In this study, deletion and primer extension analyses showed that the ltx promoter of A. actinomycetemcomitans 652 is situated approximately 150 bp upstream of the ltxC gene and initiates transcription 138 nucleotides upstream of ltxC. In contrast to strain JP2, only a single promoter appears to drive ltx expression in 652. The 652 promoter resides within the 530-bp region that is absent from the JP2 promoter sequence, suggesting that the specific sequences controlling ltx expression differ in highly toxic and minimally toxic A. actinomycetemcomitans strains. In addition, ltx expression in strain 652 was shown to be induced three- to fourfold when cells were grown under anaerobic conditions. The induction of whole cell leukotoxicity, was accompanied by increases in the levels of Ltx polypeptide and the steady-state levels of ltx mRNA, suggesting that regulation occurred at the level of transcription. In contrast, the levels of leukotoxicity, Ltx polypeptide, and fix mRNA in strain JP2 were unaffected by anaerobic growth. These results suggest that the ltx operon is differentially regulated in highly toxic and minimally toxic A. actinomycetemcomitans strains and that the sequences controlling the oxygen-dependent regulation of ltx expression may reside within the 530-bp domain that is not present in highly toxic A. actinomycetemcomitans

Topics: Research Article
Year: 1996
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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