Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from BMC Microbiology and BioMed Central.

Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Global transcriptomic response of Leptospira interrogans serovar Copenhageni upon exposure to serum

Kanitha Patarakul1, Miranda Lo23 and Ben Adler23*

Author Affiliations

1 Faculty of Medicine, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

2 ARC Centre of Excellence in Structural and Functional Microbial Genomics, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia

3 Department of Microbiology, School of Biomedical Sciences, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria 3800, Australia

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Microbiology 2010, 10:31  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-31

Published: 29 January 2010

Abstract

Background

Leptospirosis is a zoonosis of worldwide distribution caused by infection with pathogenic serovars of Leptospira spp. The most common species, L. interrogans, can survive in the environment for lengthy periods of time in between infection of mammalian hosts. Transmission of pathogenic Leptospira to humans mostly occurs through abraded skin or mucosal surfaces after direct or indirect contact with infected animals or contaminated soil or water. The spirochete then spreads hematogenously, resulting in multi-organ failure and death in severe cases. Previous DNA microarray studies have identified differentially expressed genes required for adaptation to temperature and osmolarity conditions inside the host compared to those of the environment.

Results

In order to identify genes involved in survival in the early spirochetemic phase of infection, we performed a transcriptional analysis of L. interrogans serovar Copenhageni upon exposure to serum in comparison with EMJH medium. One hundred and sixty-eight genes were found to be differentially expressed, of which 55 were up-regulated and 113 were down-regulated. Genes of known or predicted function accounted for 54.5 and 45.1% of up- and down-regulated genes, respectively. Most of the differentially expressed genes were predicted to be involved in transcriptional regulation, translational process, two-component signal transduction systems, cell or membrane biogenesis, and metabolic pathways.

Conclusions

Our study showed global transcriptional changes of pathogenic Leptospira upon exposure to serum, representing a specific host environmental cue present in the bloodstream. The presence of serum led to a distinct pattern of gene expression in comparison to those of previous single-stimulus microarray studies on the effect of temperature and osmolarity upshift. The results provide insights into the pathogenesis of leptospirosis during the early bacteremic phase of infection.