Activation of hilA expression at low pH requires the signal sensor CpxA, but not the cognate response regulator CpxR, in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium.Microbiology (Reading). 2003 Oct; 149(Pt 10):2809-2817.M
A two-component regulatory system, cpxR-cpxA, plays an important role in the pH-dependent regulation of virF, a global activator for virulence determinants including invasion genes, in Shigella sonnei. The authors examined whether the cpxR-cpxA homologues have some function in the expression of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium invasion genes via the regulation of hilA, an activator for these genes. In a Salmonella cpxA mutant, the hilA expression level was reduced to less than 10 % of that in the parent strain at pH 6.0. This mutant strain also showed undetectable synthesis of an invasion gene product, SipC, at pH 6.0 and reduced cell invasion capacity - as low as 20 % of that of the parent. In this mutant, the reduction in hilA expression was much less marked at pH 8.0 than at pH 6.0 - no less than 50 % of that in the parent, and no significant reduction was observed in either SipC synthesis or cell invasion rate, compared to the parent. Unexpectedly, a Salmonella cpxR mutant strain and the parent showed no apparent difference in all three characteristics described above at either pH. These results indicate that in Salmonella, the sensor kinase CpxA activates hilA, and consequently, invasion genes and cell invasion capacity at pH 6.0. At pH 8.0, however, CpxA does not seem to have a large role in activation of these factors. Further, the results show that this CpxA-mediated activation does not require its putative cognate response regulator, CpxR. This suggests that CpxA may interact with regulator(s) other than CpxR to achieve activation at low pH.