Constitutive Activation of PrfA Tilts the Balance of Listeria monocytogenes Fitness Towards Life within the Host versus Environmental Survival
Bruno, Joseph C. Jr.
Freitag, Nancy E.
PublisherPublic Library of Science
MetadataShow full item record
PrfA is a key regulator of Listeria monocytogenes pathogenesis and induces the expression of multiple virulence factors within the infected host. PrfA is post-translationally regulated such that the protein becomes activated upon bacterial entry into the cell cytosol. The signal that triggers PrfA activation remains unknown, however mutations have been identified (prfA* mutations) that lock the protein into a high activity state. In this report we examine the consequences of constitutive PrfA activation on L. monocytogenes fitness both in vitro and in vivo. Whereas prfA* mutants were hyper-virulent during animal infection, the mutants were compromised for fitness in broth culture and under conditions of stress. Broth culture prfA*-associated fitness defects were alleviated when glycerol was provided as the principal carbon source; under these conditions prfA* mutants exhibited a competitive advantage over wild type strains. Glycerol and other three carbon sugars have been reported to serve as primary carbon sources for L. monocytogenes during cytosolic growth, thus prfA* mutants are metabolically-primed for replication within eukaryotic cells. These results indicate the critical need for environment-appropriate regulation of PrfA activity to enable L. monocytogenes to optimize bacterial fitness inside and outside of host cells.