Community Behavior and Spatial Regulation within a Bacterial Microcolony in Deep Tissue Sites Serves to Protect against Host Attack

Kimberly M. Davis, Sina Mohammadi, Ralph R. Isberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Bacterial pathogens express virulence-specific transcriptional programs that allow tissue colonization. Although phenotypic variation has been noted in the context of antibiotic exposure, no direct evidence exists for heterogeneity in virulence-specific transcriptional programs within tissues. In a mouse model of Yersinia pseudotuberculosis infection, we show that at least three subpopulations of bacteria develop within a single tissue site in response to distinct host signals. Bacteria growing on the exterior of spleen microcolonies responded to soluble signals and induced the nitric oxide (NO)-detoxifying gene, hmp. Hmp effectively eliminated NO diffusion and protected the interior bacterial population from exposure to NO-derived inducing signals. A third subpopulation, constituting the most peripherally localized bacteria, directly contacted neutrophils and transcriptionally upregulated a virulence factor. These studies demonstrate that growth within tissues results in transcriptional specialization within a single focus of microbial replication, facilitating directed pathogen counterattack against the host response.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-31
Number of pages11
JournalCell Host and Microbe
Volume17
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 14 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Microbiology
  • Virology

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