Low-ph rescue of acid-sensitive salmonella enterica serovar typhi strains by a rhamnose-regulated arginine decarboxylase system

Karen E. Brenneman, Crystal Willingham, Wei Kong, Roy Curtiss, Kenneth L. Roland

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


For Salmonella, transient exposure to gastric pH prepares invading bacteria for the stresses of host-cell interactions. To resist the effects of low pH, wild-type Salmonella enterica uses the acid tolerance response and the arginine decarboxylase acid resistance system. However, arginine decarboxylase is typically repressed under routine culture conditions, and for many live attenuated Salmonella vaccine strains, the acid tolerance response is unable to provide the necessary protection. The objective of this study was to enhance survival of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi vaccine strains at pHs 3.0 and 2.5 to compensate for the defects in the acid tolerance response imposed by mutations in rpoS, phoPQ, and fur.We placed the arginine decarboxylase system (adiA and adiC) under the control of the ParaBAD or PrhaBAD promoter to provide inducible acid resistance when cells are grown under routine culture conditions. The rhamnose-regulated promoter PrhaBAD was less sensitive to the presence of its cognate sugar than the arabinose-regulated promoter ParaBAD and provided tighter control over adiA expression. Increased survival at low pH was only observed when adiA and adiC were coregulated by rhamnose and depended on the presence of rhamnose in the culture medium and arginine in the challenge medium. Rhamnose-regulated acid resistance significantly improved the survival of δaroD and δphoPQ mutants at pHs 3 and 2.5 but only modestly improved the survival of a fur mutant. The construction of the rhamnose- regulated arginine decarboxylase system allowed us to render S. Typhi acid resistant (to pH 2.5) on demand, with survival levels approximately equivalent to that of the native arginine decarboxylase system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3062-3072
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of bacteriology
Issue number13
StatePublished - 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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