The regulatory protein PhoP controls susceptibility to the host inflammatory response in Shigella flexneri

Cell Microbiol. 2000 Dec;2(6):443-52. doi: 10.1046/j.1462-5822.2000.00065.x.


The PhoP/PhoQ two-component regulatory system controls transcription of several key virulence genes essential for Salmonella survival in the host cell phagosome. Here, we determine that the PhoP/PhoQ system also regulates virulence in the aetiological agent of bacillary dysentery, Shigella flexneri, even though this pathogen escapes from the phagosome into the cytoplasm of the host cell. A phoP mutant of Shigella established infections and induced an acute inflammatory response in two different animal models. However, infections with phoP mutant bacteria were resolved more rapidly than infections with wild-type Shigella. Moreover, the Shigella phoP mutant was more sensitive than the wild-type strain to killing by polymorphonuclear leucocytes (PMNs), cationic polypeptides extracted from PMNs and other animal-derived antimicrobial peptides. The phoP mutant, however, invaded epithelial cells, spread intercellularly, induced apoptosis in macrophages and tolerated extreme acid pH as efficiently as the wild-type strain. PhoP appears to regulate Shigella susceptibility to PMNs and antimicrobial molecules that are important for the late stages of infection with this enteric bacterium.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Bacterial Proteins / pharmacology
  • Dysentery, Bacillary / microbiology*
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / immunology
  • Enterobacteriaceae Infections / microbiology
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • HeLa Cells
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Keratoconjunctivitis / immunology
  • Keratoconjunctivitis / microbiology
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / microbiology
  • Macrophages / microbiology
  • Mice
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Shigella flexneri / pathogenicity*
  • Signal Transduction
  • Virulence / genetics


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • PhoQ protein, Bacteria
  • PhoP protein, Bacteria