Use of green fluorescent protein to assess urease gene expression by uropathogenic Proteus mirabilis during experimental ascending urinary tract infection.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, 21201, USA.
Infection and Immunity (Impact Factor: 3.73). 02/1998; 66(1):330-5.
Source: PubMed


Proteus mirabilis, a cause of complicated urinary tract infection, expresses urease when exposed to urea. While it is recognized that the positive transcriptional activator UreR induces gene expression, the levels of expression of the enzyme during experimental infection are not known. To investigate in vivo expression of P. mirabilis urease, the gene encoding green fluorescent protein (GFP) was used to construct reporter fusions. Translational fusions of urease accessory gene ureD, which is preceded by a urea-inducible promoter, were made with gfp (modified to express S65T/V68L/S72A [B. P. Cormack et al. Gene 173:33-38, 1996]). Constructs were confirmed by sequencing of the fusion junctions. UreD-GFP fusion protein was induced by urea in both Escherichia coli DH5alpha and P. mirabilis HI4320. By using Western blotting with antiserum raised against GFP, expression level was shown to correlate with urea concentration (tested from 0 to 500 mM), with highest induction at 200 to 500 mM urea. Fluorescent E. coli and P. mirabilis bacteria were observed by fluorescence microscopy following urea induction, and the fluorescence intensity of GFP in cell lysates was measured by spectrophotofluorimetry. P. mirabilis HI4320 carrying the UreD-GFP fusion plasmid was transurethrally inoculated into the bladders of CBA mice. One week postchallenge, fluorescent bacteria were detected in thin sections of both bladder and kidney samples; the fluorescence intensity of bacteria in bladder tissue was higher than that in the kidney. Kidneys were primarily infected with single-cell-form fluorescent bacteria, while aggregated bacterial clusters were observed in the bladder. Elongated swarmer cells were only rarely observed. These observations demonstrate that urease is expressed in vivo and that using GFP as a reporter protein is a viable approach to investigate in vivo expression of P. mirabilis virulence genes in experimental urinary tract infection.

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    • "GFP allows detection and quanti¢cation of bacterial gene expression in tissue culture models and promises real-time visualization of gene expression in di¡erent pathogens. Expression of GFP does not cause attenuation or reduce bacterial invasion of cultivated cell lines (Valdivia & Falkow 1997a; Zhao et al. 1998). "
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