The mechanism of action and contribution to pathogenesis of many virulence genes are understood. By contrast, little is known about anti-virulence genes, which contribute to the start, progression, and outcome of an infection. We now report how an anti-virulence factor in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium dictates the onset of a genetic program that governs metabolic adaptations and pathogen survival in host tissues. Specifically, we establish that the anti-virulence protein CigR directly restrains the virulence protein MgtC, thereby hindering intramacrophage survival, inhibition of ATP synthesis, stabilization of cytoplasmic pH, and gene transcription by the master virulence regulator PhoP. We determine that, like MgtC, CigR localizes to the bacterial inner membrane and that its C-terminal domain is critical for inhibition of MgtC. As in many toxin/anti-toxin genes implicated in antibiotic tolerance, the mgtC and cigR genes are part of the same mRNA. However, cigR is also transcribed from a constitutive promoter, thereby creating a threshold of CigR protein that the inducible MgtC protein must overcome to initiate a virulence program critical for pathogen persistence in host tissues.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- General Neuroscience
- Molecular Biology
- General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
- General Immunology and Microbiology