Francisella tularensis is able to survive and replicate within host macrophages, a trait that is associated with the high virulence of this bacterium. The trpAB genes encode the enzymes required for the final two steps in tryptophan biosynthesis, with TrpB being responsible for the conversion of indole to tryptophan. Consistent with this function, an F. tularensis subsp. novicida trpB mutant is unable to grow in defined medium in the absence of tryptophan. The trpB mutant is also attenuated for virulence in a mouse pulmonary model of tularemia. However, the trpB mutant remains virulent in gamma interferon receptor-deficient (IFN-γR-/-) mice, demonstrating that IFN-γ-mediated signaling contributes to clearance of the trpB mutant. IFN-γ limits intracellular survival of the trpB mutant within bone marrow-derived macrophages from wild-type but not IFN-γR-/- mice. An F. tularensis subsp. tularensis trpB mutant is also attenuated for virulence in mice and survival within IFN-γ-treated macrophages, indicating that tryptophan prototrophy is also important in a human-virulent F. tularensis subspecies. These results demonstrate that trpB contributes to F. tularensis virulence by enabling intracellular growth under IFN-γ-mediated tryptophan limitation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases