Mycobacterium tuberculosis is a highly successful human pathogen, with ∼2 × 109 individuals infected globally. To understand the responses of M. tuberculosis to the in vivo environment, we studied the in vivo regulation of M. tuberculosis genes whose M. marinum homologs are induced in chronically infected frog tissues. The expression of 16S rRNA was shown to remain constant in M. tuberculosis under in vivo and in vitro conditions and therefore could be used for internal normalization in quantitative reverse transcription-PCR assays. We found whiB3, a putative transcriptional regulator implicated in mediating tissue damage, to be maximally induced at 2 weeks postinfection in the lungs of wild-type and immunodeficient (gamma interferon receptor-/-, Rag1-/-, and tumor necrosis factor alpha -/-) mice. At later time points in wild-type mice, whiB3 induction was decreased and gradually declined over the course of infection. In immunodeficient mice, whiB3 induction declined rapidly and was completely abolished in moribund animals. whiB3 was also found to be induced in naïve bone marrow-derived macrophages after 6 h of infection. whiB3 expression in vivo and in vitro was found to be inversely correlated with bacterial density. These results indicate that M. tuberculosis regulates the expression of whiB3 in response to environmental signals present in vivo and are consistent with a model of regulation by quorum sensing.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases