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UNLABELLED: Global regulator of virulence A (GrvA) is a ToxR-family transcriptional regulator that activates locus of enterocyte effacement (LEE)-dependent adherence in enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC). LEE activation by GrvA requires the Rcs phosphorelay response regulator RcsB and is sensitive to physiologically relevant concentrations of bicarbonate, a known stimulant of virulence systems in intestinal pathogens. This study determines the genomic scale of GrvA-dependent regulation and uncovers details of the molecular mechanism underlying GrvA-dependent regulation of pathogenic mechanisms in EHEC. In a grvA-null background of EHEC strain TW14359, RNA sequencing analysis revealed the altered expression of over 700 genes, including the downregulation of LEE- and non-LEE-encoded effectors and the upregulation of genes for glutamate-dependent acid resistance (GDAR). Upregulation of GDAR genes corresponded with a marked increase in acid resistance. GrvA-dependent regulation of GDAR and the LEE required gadE, the central activator of GDAR genes and a direct repressor of the LEE. Control of gadE by GrvA was further determined to occur through downregulation of the gadE activator GadW. This interaction of GrvA with GadW-GadE represses the acid resistance phenotype, while it concomitantly activates the LEE-dependent adherence and secretion of immune subversion effectors. The results of this study significantly broaden the scope of GrvA-dependent regulation and its role in EHEC pathogenesis.

IMPORTANCE: Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) is an intestinal human pathogen causing acute hemorrhagic colitis and life-threatening hemolytic-uremic syndrome. For successful transmission and gut colonization, EHEC relies on the glutamate-dependent acid resistance (GDAR) system and a type III secretion apparatus, encoded on the LEE pathogenicity island. This study investigates the mechanism whereby the DNA-binding regulator GrvA coordinates activation of the LEE with repression of GDAR. Investigating how these systems are regulated leads to an understanding of pathogenic behavior and novel strategies aimed at disease prevention and control.

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Journal of Bacteriology, v. 198, no. 3, p. 394-409

Morgan JK, Carroll RK, Harro CM, Vendura KW, Shaw LN, Riordan JT. 2016. Global regulator of virulence A (GrvA) coordinates expression of discrete pathogenic mechanisms in enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli through interactions with GadW-GadE. J Bacteriol 198:394–409.

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