Mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis (MAP) is the causative agent of severe gastroenteritis in cattle. To gain a better understanding of MAP virulence, we investigated the role of leuD gene in MAP metabolism and stress response. For this, we have constructed an auxotrophic strain of MAP by deleting the leuD gene using allelic exchange. The wildtype and mutant strains were then compared for metabolic phenotypic changes using Biolog phenotype microarrays. The responses of both strains to physiologically relevant stress conditions were assessed using DNA microarrays. Transcriptomic data was then analyzed in the context of cellular metabolic pathways and gene networks. Our results showed that deletion of leuD gene has a global effect on both MAP phenotypic and transcriptome response. At the metabolic level, the mutant strain lost the ability to utilize most of the carbon, nitrogen, sulphur, phosphorus and nutrient supplements as energy source. At the transcriptome level, more than 100 genes were differentially expressed in each of the stress condition tested. Systems level network analysis revealed that the differentially expressed genes were distributed throughout the gene network, thus explaining the global impact of leuD deletion in metabolic phenotype. Further, we find that leuD deletion impacted metabolic pathways associated with fatty acids. We verified this by experimentally estimating the total fatty acid content of both mutant and wildtype. The mutant strain had 30% less fatty acid content when compared to wildtype, thus supporting the results from transcriptional and computational analyses. Our results therefore reveal the intricate connection between the metabolism and virulence in MAP.
Chen, J. W., Scaria, J., & Chang, Y. F. (2012). Phenotypic and transcriptomic response of auxotrophic mycobacterium avium subsp. paratuberculosis leuD mutant under environmental stress. PLoS ONE, 7(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0037884