Perturbation of the two-component signal transduction system, BprRS, results in attenuated virulence and motility defects in Burkholderia pseudomallei

Adler, Natalie R. Lazar, Allwood, Elizabeth M., Lucas, Deanna Deveson, Harrison, Paul, Watts, Stephen, Dimitropoulos, Alexandra, Treerat, Puthayalai, Alwis, Priyangi, Devenish, Rodney J., Prescott, Mark, Govan, Brenda, Adler, Ben, Harper, Marina, and Boyce, John D. (2016) Perturbation of the two-component signal transduction system, BprRS, results in attenuated virulence and motility defects in Burkholderia pseudomallei. BMC Genomics, 17 (331). pp. 1-17.

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Background: Burkholderia pseudomallei is the causative agent of melioidosis, a severe invasive disease of humans and animals. Initial screening of a B. pseudomallei signature-tagged mutagenesis library identified an attenuated mutant with a transposon insertion in a gene encoding the sensor component of an uncharacterised two-component signal transduction system (TCSTS), which we designated BprRS.

Results: Single gene inactivation of either the response regulator gene (bprR) or the sensor histidine kinase gene (bprS) resulted in mutants with reduced swarming motility and reduced virulence in mice. However, a bprRS double mutant was not attenuated for virulence and displayed wild-type levels of motility. The transcriptomes of the bprS, bprR and bprRS mutants were compared with the transcriptome of the parent strain K96243. Inactivation of the entire BprRS TCSTS (bprRS double mutant) resulted in altered expression of only nine genes, including both bprR and bprS, five phage-related genes and bpss0686, encoding a putative 5, 10-methylene tetrahydromethanopterin reductase involved in one carbon metabolism. In contrast, the transcriptomes of each of the bprR and bprS single gene mutants revealed more than 70 differentially expressed genes common to both mutants, including regulatory genes and those required for flagella assembly and for the biosynthesis of the cytotoxic polyketide, malleilactone.

Conclusions: Inactivation of the entire BprRS TCSTS did not alter virulence or motility and very few genes were differentially expressed indicating that the definitive BprRS regulon is relatively small. However, loss of a single component, either the sensor histidine kinase BprS or its cognate response regulator BprR, resulted in significant transcriptomic and phenotypic differences from the wild-type strain. We hypothesize that the dramatically altered phenotypes of these single mutants are the result of cross-regulation with one or more other TCSTSs and concomitant dysregulation of other key regulatory genes.

Item ID: 45503
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1471-2164
Keywords: Burkholderia pseudomallei, two-component signal transduction, transcriptomics, flagella, virulence
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© 2016 Lazar Adler et al. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Funders: ARC Centre of Excellence in Structural and Functional Microbial Genomics (ARC CESFMG), National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC)
Projects and Grants: ARC CESFMG CE0562063 , NHMRC 545855 and 1043667
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2016 07:46
FoR Codes: 32 BIOMEDICAL AND CLINICAL SCIENCES > 3207 Medical microbiology > 320701 Medical bacteriology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9201 Clinical Health (Organs, Diseases and Abnormal Conditions) > 920109 Infectious Diseases @ 100%
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