Differential modulation of Bordetella pertussis virulence genes as evidenced by DNA microarray analysis

Mol Genet Genomics. 2003 Jul;269(4):475-86. doi: 10.1007/s00438-003-0851-1. Epub 2003 May 24.


The production of most factors involved in Bordetella pertussis virulence is controlled by a two-component regulatory system termed BvgA/S. In the Bvg+ phase virulence-activated genes (vags) are expressed, and virulence-repressed genes (vrgs) are down-regulated. The expression of these genes can also be modulated by MgSO(4) or nicotinic acid. In this study we used microarrays to analyse the influence of BvgA/S or modulation on the expression of nearly 200 selected genes. With the exception of one vrg, all previously known vags and vrgs were correctly assigned as such, and the microarray analyses identified several new vags and vrgs, including genes coding for putative autotransporters, two-component systems, extracellular sigma factors, the adenylate cyclase accessory genes cyaBDE, and two genes coding for components of a type III secretion system. For most of the new vrgs and vags the results of the microarray analyses were confirmed by RT-PCR analysis and/or lacZfusions. The degree of regulation and modulation varied between genes, and showed a continuum from strongly BvgA/S-activated genes to strongly BvgA/S-repressed genes. The microarray analyses also led to the identification of a subset of vags and vrgs that are differentially regulated and modulated by MgSO(4) or nicotinic acid, indicating that these genes may be targets for multiple regulatory circuits. For example, the expression of bilA, a gene predicted to encode an intimin-like protein, was found to be activated by BvgA/S and up-modulated by nicotinic acid. Furthermore, surprisingly, in the strain analysed here, which produces only type 2 fimbriae, the fim3 gene was identified as a vrg, while fim2 was confirmed to be a vag.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bordetella pertussis / genetics
  • Bordetella pertussis / pathogenicity*
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial
  • Kinetics
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins / metabolism
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Virulence / genetics*


  • RNA, Messenger
  • Recombinant Fusion Proteins