JOURNAL ARTICLE

Insights into Klebsiella pneumoniae type VI secretion system transcriptional regulation

Victor Augusto Araújo Barbosa, Leticia Miranda Santos Lery
BMC Genomics 2019 June 18, 20 (1): 506
31215404

BACKGROUND: Klebsiella pneumoniae (KP) is an opportunistic pathogen that mainly causes respiratory and urinary tract infections. The frequent occurrence of simultaneously virulent and multiple drug-resistant isolates led WHO to include this species in the list of top priorities for research and development of therapeutic alternatives. The comprehensive knowledge of the molecular mechanisms underlying KP virulence may lead to the proposal of more efficient and specific drugs. One of its virulence factors is the Type VI Secretion System (T6SS), which contributes to bacterial competition, cell invasion and in vivo colonisation. Despite the few studies showing the involvement of T6SS in KP pathogenesis, little is known concerning the regulation of its expression. The understanding of regulatory mechanisms may give more clues about the function of the system and the possibilities of future interference in this process. This work aimed to standardise the annotation of T6SS genes in KP strains and identify mechanisms of their transcriptional regulation through computational predictions.

RESULTS: We analyzed the genomes of Kp52.145, HS11286 and NTUH-K2044 strains to perform a broad prediction and re-annotation of T6SS genes through similarity searches, comparative and linear discriminant analysis. 38 genes were found in Kp52.145, while 29 in HS11286 and 30 in NTUH-K2044. Genes coding for iron uptake systems are encoded in adjacencies of T6SS, suggesting that KP T6SS might also play a role in ion import. Some of the T6SS genes are comprised in syntenic regions. 17 sigma 70-dependent promoter regions were identified in Kp52.145, 12 in HS11286 and 12 in NTUH-K2044. Using VirtualFootprint algorithm, binding sites for 13 transcriptional regulators were found in Kp52.145 and 9 in HS11286 and 17 in NTUH-K2044. Six of them are common to the 3 strains: OxyR, H-NS, RcsAB, GcvA, Fis, and OmpR.

CONCLUSIONS: The data presented herein are derived from computational analysis. Although future experimental studies are required to confirm those predictions, they suggest that KP T6SS might be regulated in response to environmental signals that are indeed sensed by the bacteria inside the human host: temperature (H-NS), nutrition-limitation (GcvA and Fis), oxidative stress (OxyR) and osmolarity (RscAB and OmpR).

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