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Acid-sensitive mutants of Salmonella typhimurium identified through a dinitrophenol lethal screening strategy.

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  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Salmonella typhimurium exhibits a low-pH-inducible acid tolerance response (ATR) that can protect the adapted cell from severe acid challenge (pH 3.3). It is a two-stage system, with some proteins induced at pH 5.8 (pre-acid shock) and others induced below pH 4.5 (acid shock). The genetics of acid resistance was investigated through the use of a new screening medium. The medium contained 200 microM dinitrophenol (DNP) and was adjusted to pH 4.7 to 4.8. The medium will lower the internal pH of cells to a lethal level. However, cells capable of mounting an ATR will survive longer on this medium than acid-intolerant cells. Using this DNP lethal screening strategy, we isolated several acid-sensitive insertion mutants. Some mutants were defective in the pre-acid shock ATR stage but exhibited a normal or nearly normal post-acid shock-induced acid tolerance (atrB and atrC). Others could not induce acid tolerance by using either pre- or post-acid shock strategies (atrD, atrF, and atrG). The atrB locus was found to be part of a regulon under the control of a trans-acting regulator, atbR. An insertion in atbR caused constitutive acid tolerance because of overexpression of the regulon. Mutations in atrD and atrF affected iron metabolism and, in a manner analogous to ferric uptake regulator (fur) mutations, diminished acid resistance. The atrF mutation mapped within the ent cluster, probably in a fep uptake locus. The atrD locus mapped near metC and may represent an insertion into the S. typhimurium homolog of the Escherichia coli exbB or exbD locus. The mutation in atrC caused extreme UV light sensitivity and proved to occur within the polA (DNA polymerase I) locus. The results support the concept of overlapping acid protection systems in S. typhimurium.

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