MouR controls the expression of the Listeria monocytogenes Agr system and mediates virulence

Abstract

The foodborne pathogen Listeria monocytogenes (Lm) causes invasive infection in susceptible animals and humans. To survive and proliferate within hosts, this facultative intracellular pathogen tightly coordinates the expression of a complex regulatory network that controls the expression of virulence factors. Here, we identified and characterized MouR, a novel virulence regulator of Lm. Through RNA-seq transcriptomic analysis, we determined the MouR regulon and demonstrated how MouR positively controls the expression of the Agr quorum sensing system (agrBDCA) of Lm. The MouR three-dimensional structure revealed a dimeric DNA-binding transcription factor belonging to the VanR class of the GntR superfamily of regulatory proteins. We also showed that by directly binding to the agr promoter region, MouR ultimately modulates chitinase activity and biofilm formation. Importantly, we demonstrated by in vitro cell invasion assays and in vivo mice infections the role of MouR in Lm virulence.

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