Dual RNA-seq reveals a type 6 secretion system-dependent blockage of TNF-α signaling and BicA as a Burkholderia pseudomallei virulence factor important during gastrointestinal infection

Javier I. Sanchez-Villamil, Daniel Tapia, Nittaya Khakhum, Steven G. Widen, Alfredo G. Torres

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Melioidosis is a disease caused by the Gram-negative bacillus Burkholderia pseudomallei (Bpm), commonly found in soil and water of endemic areas. Naturally acquired human melioidosis infections can result from either exposure through percutaneous inoculation, inhalation, or ingestion of soil-contaminated food or water. Our prior studies recognized Bpm as an effective enteric pathogen, capable of establishing acute or chronic gastrointestinal infections following oral inoculation. However, the specific mechanisms and virulence factors involved in the pathogenesis of Bpm during intestinal infection are unknown. In our current study, we standardized an in vitro intestinal infection model using primary intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) and demonstrated that Bpm requires a functional T6SS for full virulence. Further, we performed dual RNA-seq analysis on Bpm-infected IECs to evaluate differentially expressed host and bacterial genes in the presence or absence of a T6SS. Our results showed a dysregulation in the TNF-α signaling via NF-κB pathway in the absence of the T6SS, with some of the genes involved in inflammatory processes and cell death also affected. Analysis of the bacterial transcriptome identified virulence factors and regulatory proteins playing a role during infection, with association to the T6SS. By using a Bpm transposon mutant library and isogenic mutants, we showed that deletion of the bicA gene, encoding a putative T3SS/T6SS regulator, ablated intracellular survival and plaque formation by Bpm and impacted survival and virulence when using murine models of acute and chronic gastrointestinal infection. Overall, these results highlight the importance of the type 6 secretion system in the gastrointestinal pathogenesis of Bpm.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2111950
JournalGut Microbes
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2022

Keywords

  • Burkholderia pseudomallei
  • gastrointestinal infection
  • melioidosis
  • type 6 secretion system

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Gastroenterology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases

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