Salmonella spp. are carried by and can acutely infect agricultural animals and humans. After ingestion, salmonellae traverse the upper digestive tract and initiate tissue invasion of the distal ileum, a virulence process carried out by the type III secretion system encoded within Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 (SPI-1). Salmonellae coordinate SPI-1 expression with anatomical location via environmental cues, one of which is bile, a complex digestive fluid that causes potent repression of SPI-1 genes. The individual components of bile responsible for SPI-1 repression have not been previously characterized, nor have the bacterial signaling processes that modulate their effects been determined. Here, we characterize the mechanism by which bile represses SPI-1 expression. Individual bile acids exhibit repressive activity on SPI-1-regulated genes that requires neither passive diffusion nor OmpF-mediated entry. By using genetic methods, the effects of bile and bile acids were shown to require the invasion gene transcriptional activator hilD and to function independently of known upstream signaling pathways. Protein analysis techniques showed that SPI-1 repression by bile acids is mediated by posttranslational destabilization of HilD. Finally, we found that bile acids function synergistically to achieve the overall repressive activity of bile. These studies demonstrate a common mechanism by which diverse environmental cues (e.g., certain short-chain fatty acids and bile acids) inhibit SPI-1 expression. These data provide information relevant to Salmonella pathogenesis during acute infection in the intestine and during chronic infection of the gallbladder and inform the basis for development of therapeutics to inhibit invasion as a means of repressing Salmonella pathogenicity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases