From motility to virulence: Sensing and responding to environmental signals in Vibrio cholerae

Curr Opin Microbiol. 2003 Apr;6(2):186-90. doi: 10.1016/s1369-5274(03)00032-8.


Sensing its changing environment is key for Vibrio cholerae when making the transition from an aquatic lifestyle to one more suited to a human host. An inverse correlation between motility and virulence gene expression has been reported, with the NADH : ubiquinone oxidoreductase system which powers motility by generating a sodium-motive force, playing a pivotal role. Recent studies have demonstrated that bile inhibits activity of the transcription factor ToxT, a protein responsible for direct activation of numerous virulence gene promoters. In addition, recent technological advances have allowed for the analysis of in-vivo-induced genes and assessment of their timing of expression. Use of recombinase-based in vivo expression technology has revealed that the toxin-coregulated pilus (a colonization factor) is expressed before cholera toxin. Components of an acid-tolerance response system have also been found using this method as well as signature-tagged mutagenesis. Finally, a role for quorum sensing in regulation of virulence gene expression has recently been established.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cholera / genetics
  • Cholera / metabolism
  • Environment
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Models, Biological
  • Movement / physiology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Vibrio cholerae / genetics
  • Vibrio cholerae / pathogenicity*
  • Vibrio cholerae / physiology
  • Virulence / physiology