The impact of inactivation of the purine biosynthesis genes, purN and purT, on growth and virulence in uropathogenic E. coli

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De novo synthesis of purines has been suggested to be an important factor for the pathogenesis of uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC). We analyzed the role of the redundant purine biosynthesis genes purN and purT, responsible for the third step in the purine biosynthesis, during UPEC infection. Growth experiments in M9 (minimal media), MOPS (rich media), filtered urine, and human serum with E. coli UTI89 and ΔpurN, ΔpurT, and ΔpurN/T mutants revealed that UPEC relies on de novo purine synthesis for growth in minimal medium. Mutants in individual genes as well as the double mutant grew equally well as the wild type in urine, rich media, and serum. However, during competition for growth in urine, the wild type UTI89 strain significantly outcompeted the purine auxotrophic ΔpurN/T mutant from late exponential growth phase. Inactivation of purN and/or purT significantly affected UPEC invasion of human bladder cells, but not the intracellular survival. Cytotoxicity levels to bladder cells were also diminished when both purN and purT were deleted, while single gene mutants did not differ from the wild type. When infecting human macrophages, no differences were observed between UTI89 and mutants in uptake, survival or cytotoxicity. Finally, the lack of the pur-gene(s), whether analysed as single or double gene knock-out, did not affect recovery rates after in vivo infection in a mouse model of UTI. These findings suggest that de novo synthesis of purines might be required only when UPEC is fully deprived of nucleotides and when grown in competition with other microorganisms in urine.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Biology Reports
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)2707-2716
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2018

    Research areas

  • De novo purine biosynthesis, E. coli UTI89, Intracellular survival, Redundant genes, Urinary tract infection

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