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Genome-wide screen for temperature-regulated genes of the obligate intracellular bacterium, Rickettsia typhi

Author(s): Dreher-Lesnick Sheila | Ceraul Shane | Rahman M Sayeedur | Azad Abdu

Journal: BMC Microbiology
ISSN 1471-2180

Volume: 8;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 61;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Abstract Background The ability of rickettsiae to survive in multiple eukaryotic host environments provides a good model for studying pathogen-host molecular interactions. Rickettsia typhi, the etiologic agent of murine typhus, is a strictly intracellular gram negative α-proteobacterium, which is transmitted to humans by its arthropod vector, the oriental rat flea, Xenopsylla cheopis. Thus, R. typhi must cycle between mammalian and flea hosts, two drastically different environments. We hypothesize that temperature plays a role in regulating host-specific gene expression, allowing R. typhi to survive in mammalian and arthropod hosts. In this study, we used Affymetrix microarrays to screen for temperature-induced genes upon a temperature shift from 37°C to 25°C, mimicking the two different host temperatures in vitro. Results Temperature-responsive genes belonged to multiple functional categories including among others, transcription, translation, posttranslational modification/protein turnover/chaperones and intracellular trafficking and secretion. A large number of differentially expressed genes are still poorly characterized, and either have no known function or are not in the COG database. The microarray results were validated with quantitative real time RT-PCR. Conclusion This microarray screen identified various genes that were differentially expressed upon a shift in temperature from 37°C to 25°C. Further characterization of the identified genes may provide new insights into the ability of R. typhi to successfully transition between its mammalian and arthropod hosts.
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