The sigma factor σ54 is required for the long-term survival of Leptospira biflexa in water

Jun Jie Zhang, Wei Lin Hu, Youyun Yang, Hongxia Li, Mathieu Picardeau, Jie Yan, X. Frank Yang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Leptospira spp. comprise both pathogenic and free-living saprophytic species. Little is known about the environmental adaptation and survival mechanisms of Leptospira. Alternative sigma factor, σ54 (RpoN) is known to play an important role in environmental and host adaptation in many bacteria. In this study, we constructed an rpoN mutant by allele exchange, and the complemented strain in saprophytic L. biflexa. Transcriptome analysis revealed that expression of several genes involved in nitrogen uptake and metabolism, including amtB1, glnB-amtB2, ntrX and narK, were controlled by σ54. While wild-type L. biflexa could not grow under nitrogen-limiting conditions but was able to survive under such conditions and recover rapidly, the rpoN mutant was not. The rpoN mutant also had dramatically reduced ability to survive long-term in water. σ54 appears to regulate expression of amtB1, glnK-amtB2, ntrX and narK in an indirect manner. However, we identified a novel nitrogen-related gene, LEPBI_I1011, whose expression was directly under the control of σ54 (herein renamed as rcfA for RpoN-controlled factor A). Taken together, our data reveal that the σ54 regulatory network plays an important role in the long-term environmental survival of Leptospira spp.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-77
Number of pages15
JournalMolecular Microbiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology

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