A Two-Component Signal Transduction System With a PAS Domain-Containing Sensor Is Required for Virulence of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis in Mice

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2004 Jan 30;314(1):259-67. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2003.12.082.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the causative organism of tuberculosis, encounters oxidative stress during phagocytosis by the macrophage and following macrophage activation during an acquired immune response, and also from internally generated sources of radical oxygen intermediates through intermediary metabolism. We have identified the SenX3 protein, a sensor in 1 of the 11 complete pairs of two-component signal transduction systems in M. tuberculosis, as a possible orthologue of the Mak2p protein from the fission yeast Schizosaccharomyces pombe that is known to sense peroxide stress. Moreover, the SenX3-RegX3 two-component system was the top scoring hit in a homology search with the Escherichia coli ArcB-ArcA global control system of aerobic genes. Using structural modelling techniques we have determined that SenX3 contains a PAS-like domain found in a variety of prokaryotic and eukaryotic sensors of oxygen and redox. Mutants with knock-outs of senX3 or of the accompanying transcriptional regulator regX3 were constructed and found to have reduced virulence in a mouse model of tuberculosis infection, the mutant bacteria persisting for up to 4 months post-infection; complemented mutants had regained virulence confirming that it was mutations of this two-component system that were responsible for the avirulent phenotype. This work identifies the PAS domain as a possible drug target for tuberculosis and mutations in the senX3-regX signal transduction system as potentially useful components of live vaccine strains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / chemistry*
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Models, Molecular*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Mutation
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / growth & development
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / metabolism*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / pathogenicity*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Phosphotransferases / chemistry*
  • Phosphotransferases / metabolism*
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary
  • Recombinant Proteins / chemistry
  • Recombinant Proteins / metabolism
  • Sequence Alignment
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Tuberculosis / microbiology


  • Bacterial Proteins
  • Recombinant Proteins
  • Phosphotransferases
  • SenX3 protein, Mycobacterium