Infection and immunity

FNR regulates expression of important virulence factors contributing to pathogenicity of uropathogenic Escherichia coli.

PMID 25245807


Uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) is responsible for the majority of urinary tract infections (UTIs), which are some of the world's most common bacterial infections of humans. Here, we examined the role of FNR (fumarate and nitrate reduction), a well-known global regulator, in the pathogenesis of UPEC infections. We constructed an fnr deletion mutant of UPEC CFT073 and compared it to the wild type for changes in virulence, adherence, invasion, and expression of key virulence factors. Compared to the wild type, the fnr mutant was highly attenuated in the mouse model of human UTI and showed severe defects in adherence to and invasion of bladder and kidney epithelial cells. Our results showed that FNR regulates motility and multiple virulence factors, including expression of type I and P fimbriae, modulation of hemolysin expression, and expression of a novel pathogenicity island involved in α-ketoglutarate metabolism under anaerobic conditions. Our results demonstrate that FNR is a key global regulator of UPEC virulence and controls expression of important virulence factors that contribute to UPEC pathogenicity.