Salmonella typhimurium mutants that downregulate phagocyte nitric oxide production

Cell Microbiol. 2000 Jun;2(3):239-50. doi: 10.1046/j.1462-5822.2000.00051.x.


To examine the potential and strategies of the facultative intracellular pathogen Salmonella typhimurium to increase its fitness in host cells, we applied a selection that enriches for mutants with increased bacterial growth yields in murine J774-A.1 macrophage-like cells. The selection, which was based on intracellular growth competition, rapidly yielded isolates that out-competed the wild-type strain during intracellular growth. J774-A.1 cells responded to challenge with S. typhimurium by mounting an inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) mRNA and protein expression and a concomitant nitric oxide (NO) production. Inhibition of NO production with the use of the competitive inhibitor N-monomethyl-L-arginine (NMMA) resulted in a 20-fold increase in bacterial growth yield, suggesting that the NO response prevented bacterial intracellular growth. In accordance with this observation, five out of the nine growth advantage mutants isolated inhibited production of NO from J774-A.1 cells, despite an induction of iNOS mRNA and iNOS protein. Accompanying bacterial phenotypes included alterations in lipopolysaccharide structure and in the profiles of proteins secreted by invasion-competent bacteria. The results indicate that S. typhimurium has the ability to mutate in several different ways to increase its host fitness and that inhibition of iNOS activity may be a major adaptation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Down-Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism
  • Macrophages / microbiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Mutation*
  • Nitric Oxide / biosynthesis*
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase / metabolism
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Salmonella Infections / microbiology*
  • Salmonella Infections / mortality
  • Salmonella typhimurium / classification
  • Salmonella typhimurium / genetics
  • Salmonella typhimurium / growth & development
  • Salmonella typhimurium / pathogenicity*
  • Virulence


  • Nitric Oxide
  • NOS2 protein, human
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase
  • Nitric Oxide Synthase Type II
  • Nos2 protein, mouse