Redox, amino acid, and fatty acid metabolism intersect with bacterial virulence in the gut

Reed Pifer, Regan M. Russell, Aman Kumar, Meredith M. Curtis, Vanessa Sperandio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


The gut metabolic landscape is complex and is influenced by the microbiota, host physiology, and enteric pathogens. Pathogens have to exquisitely monitor the biogeography of the gastrointestinal tract to find a suitable niche for colonization. To dissect the important metabolic pathways that influence virulence of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC), we conducted a highthroughput screen.We generated a dataset of regulatory pathways that control EHEC virulence expression under anaerobic conditions. This unraveled that the cysteine-responsive regulator, CutR, converges with the YhaO serine import pump and the fatty acid metabolism regulator FadR to optimally control virulence expression in EHEC. CutR activates expression of YhaO to increase activity of the YhaJ transcription factor that has been previously shown to directly activate the EHEC virulence genes. CutR enhances FadL, which is a pump for fatty acids that represses inhibition of virulence expression by FadR, unmasking a feedback mechanism responsive to metabolite fluctuations. Moreover, CutR and FadR also augment murine infection by Citrobacter rodentium, which is a murine pathogen extensively employed as a surrogate animal model for EHEC. This high-throughput approach proved to be a powerful tool tomap the web of cellular circuits that allows an enteric pathogen to monitor the gut environment and adjust the levels of expression of its virulence repertoire toward successful infection of the host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E10712-E10719
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number45
StatePublished - Nov 6 2018


  • CutR
  • EHEC
  • Enterohemorrhagic E. coli
  • FadL

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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