Instituto Superior de Investigaciones Biológicas (INSIBIO), CONICET-UNT, and Instituto de Química Biológica "Dr. Bernabé Bloj", Facultad de Bioquímica, Química y Farmacia, UNT, Chacabuco 461, T4000ILI, San Miguel de Tucumán, Tucumán, Argentina. Electronic address: [Email]
Bacterial survive and respond to adverse changes in the environment by regulating gene transcription through two-component regulatory systems. In Salmonella Typhimurium the STM1485 gene expression is induced under low pH (4.5) during replication inside the epithelial host cell, but it is not involved in sensing or resisting to this condition. Since the RcsCDB system is activated under acidic conditions, we investigated whether this system is able to modulate STM1485 expression. We demonstrated that acid-induced activation of the RcsB represses STM1485 transcription by directly binding to the promoter. Under the same condition, the RstA regulator activates the expression of this gene. Physiologically, we observed that RcsB-dependent repression is required for the survival of bacteria when they are exposed to pancreatic fluids. We hypothesized that STM1485 plays an important role in Salmonella adaptation to pH changes, during transition in the gastrointestinal tract. We suggest that bacteria surviving the gastrointestinal environment invade the epithelial cells, where they can remain in vacuoles. In this new environment, acidity and magnesium starvation activate the expression of the RstA regulator in a PhoPQ-dependent manner, which in turn induces STM1485 expression. These levels of STM1485 allow increased bacterial replication within vacuoles to continue the course of infection.