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Deletions in the pyruvate pathway of Salmonella Typhimurium alter SPI1-mediated gene expression and infectivity

Jason Abernathy1, Carolina Corkill2, Carolee Hinojosa2, Xianyao Li3 and Huaijun Zhou1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Animal Science, University of California, 95616, Davis, CA, USA

2 Department of Poultry Science, Texas A&M University, 77845, College Station, TX, USA

3 College of Animal Science and Technology, Shandong Agricultural University, 271018, Taian, Shandong, China

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Journal of Animal Science and Biotechnology 2013, 4:5  doi:10.1186/2049-1891-4-5

Published: 25 February 2013



Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium is a major foodborne pathogen worldwide. S. Typhimurium encodes type III secretion systems via Salmonella pathogenicity islands (SPI), producing the major effector proteins of virulence. Previously, we identified two genes of Salmonella pyruvate metabolism that were up-regulated during chicken cell infection: pyruvate formate lyase I (pflB) and bifunctional acetaldehyde-CoA/alcohol dehydrogenase (adhE). We were therefore interested in examining the role these genes may play in the transmission of Salmonella to humans.


Mutant strains of Salmonella with single gene deletions for pflB and adhE were created. Invasion and growth in human HCT-8 intestinal epithelial cells and THP-1 macrophages was examined. Quantitative PCR was performed on 19 SPI-1 genes.


In HCT-8 cells, both mutant strains had significantly higher intracellular counts than the wild-type from 4 to 48 h post-infection. Various SPI-1 genes in the mutants were up-regulated over the wild-type as early as 1 h and lasting until 24 h post-infection. In THP-1 cells, no significant difference in internal Salmonella counts was observed; however, SPI-1 genes were largely down-regulated in the mutants during the time-course of infection. We also found five SPI-1 genes - hilA, hilC hilD, sicP and rtsA - which were up-regulated in at least one of the mutant strains in log-phase broth cultures alone. We have therefore identified a set of SPI-1 virulence genes whose regulation is effected by the central metabolism of Salmonella.

adhE; Metabolism; pflB; Pyruvate; Salmonella pathogenicity island; Salmonella Typhimurium; Virulence