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Global Gene Expression of Listeria monocytogenes to Salt Stress

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Outbreaks of listeriosis caused by the ingestion of Listeria-contaminated ready-to-eat foods have been reported worldwide. Many ready-to-eat foods, such as deli meat products, contain high amounts of salt, which can disrupt the maintenance of osmotic balance within bacterial cells. To understand how Listeria monocytogenes adapts to salt stress, we examined the growth and global gene expression profiles of L. monocytogenes strain F2365 under salt stress using oligonucleotide probe-based DNA array and quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) analyses. The growth of L. monocytogenes in brain heart infusion (BHI) medium with various concentrations of NaCl (2.5, 5, and 10%) was significantly inhibited (P < 0.01) when compared with growth in BHI with no NaCl supplementation. Microarray data indicated that growth in BHI medium with 1.2% NaCl upregulated 4 genes and down-regulated 24 genes in L. monocytogenes, which was confirmed by qRT-PCR. The transcript levels of genes involved in the uptake of glycine betaine/L-proline were increased, whereas genes associated with a putative phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS), metabolic enzymes, and virulence factor were down-regulated. Specifically, the expression levels of PTS transport genes were shown to be dependent on NaCl concentration. To further examine whether the down-regulation of PTS genes is related to decreased cell growth, the transcript levels of genes encoding components of enzyme II, involved in the uptake of various sugars used as the primary carbon source in bacteria, were also measured using qRT-PCR. Our results suggest that the decreased transcript levels of PTS genes may be caused by salt stress or reduced cell growth through salt stress. Here, we report global transcriptional profiles of L. monocytogenes in response to salt stress, contributing to an improved understanding of osmotolerance in this bacterium.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Department of Basic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762 2: Pathogen Functional Genomics Resource Center, J. Craig Venter Institute, 9712 Medical Drive, Rockville, Maryland 20850, USA 3: Department of Basic Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Mississippi State University, Mississippi State, Mississippi 39762;, Email:

Publication date: May 1, 2012

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