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Improved Expression Systems for Regulated Expression in Salmonella Infecting Eukaryotic Cells

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023055
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Biochemistry
  • Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Regulatory Proteins
  • Biotechnology
  • Genetics
  • Gene Expression
  • Microbiology
  • Bacterial Pathogens
  • Salmonella
  • Applied Microbiology
  • Bacteriology
  • Biology


In this work we describe a series of improvements to the Salmonella-based salicylate-inducible cascade expression system comprised of a plasmid-borne expression module, where target gene expression is driven by the Pm promoter governed by the XylS2 regulator, and a genome-integrated regulatory module controlled by the nahR/Psal system. We have constructed a set of high and low-copy number plasmids bearing modified versions of the expression module with a more versatile multiple cloning site and different combinations of the following elements: (i) the nasF transcriptional attenuator, which reduces basal expression levels, (ii) a strong ribosome binding site, and (iii) the Type III Secretion System (TTSS) signal peptide from the effector protein SspH2 to deliver proteins directly to the eukaryotic cytosol following bacterial infection of animal cells. We show that different expression module versions can be used to direct a broad range of protein production levels. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the efficient reduction of basal expression by the nasF attenuator allows the cloning of genes encoding highly cytotoxic proteins such as colicin E3 even in the absence of its immunity protein. Additionally, we show that the Salmonella TTSS is able to translocate most of the protein produced by this regulatory cascade to the cytoplasm of infected HeLa cells. Our results indicate that these vectors represent useful tools for the regulated overproduction of heterologous proteins in bacterial culture or in animal cells, for the cloning and expression of genes encoding toxic proteins and for pathogenesis studies.

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