Transcriptional Priming of Salmonella Pathogenicity Island-2 Precedes Cellular Invasion
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Invasive salmonellosis caused by Salmonella enterica involves an enteric stage of infection where the bacteria colonize mucosal epithelial cells, followed by systemic infection with intracellular replication in immune cells. The type III secretion system encoded in Salmonella Pathogenicity Island (SPI)-2 is essential for intracellular replication and the regulators governing high-level expression of SPI-2 genes within the macrophage phagosome and in inducing media thought to mimic this environment have been well characterized. However, low-level expression of SPI-2 genes is detectable in media thought to mimic the extracellular environment suggesting that additional regulatory pathways are involved in SPI-2 gene expression prior to cellular invasion. The regulators involved in this activity are not known and the extracellular transcriptional activity of the entire SPI-2 island in vivo has not been studied. We show that low-level, SsrB-independent promoter activity for the ssrA-ssrB two-component regulatory system and the ssaG structural operon encoded in SPI-2 is dependent on transcriptional input by OmpR and Fis under non-inducing conditions. Monitoring the activity of all SPI-2 promoters in real-time following oral infection of mice revealed invasion-independent transcriptional activity of the SPI2 T3SS in the lumen of the gut, which we suggest is a priming activity with functional relevance for the subsequent intracellular host-pathogen interaction.
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