Salmonella invasion gene regulation: a story of environmental awareness

J Microbiol. 2005 Feb;43 Spec No:110-7.


Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium causes human gastroenteritis and a systemic typhoid-like infection in mice. A critical virulence determinant of Salmonella is the ability to invade mammalian cells. The expression of genes required for invasion is tightly regulated by environmental conditions and a variety of regulatory genes. The hilA regulator encodes an OmpR/ToxR family transcriptional regulator that activates the expression of invasion genes in response to both environmental and genetic regulatory factors. Work from several laboratories has highlighted that regulation of hilA expression is a key point for controlling expression of the invasive phenotype. A number of positive regulators of hilA expression have been identified including csrAB, sirA/barA, pstS, hilC/sirC/sprA, fis, and hilD. HilD, an AraC/XylS type transcriptional regulator, is of particular importance as a mutation in hilD results in a 14-fold decrease in chromosomal hilA::Tn5lacZY-080 expression and a 53-fold decrease in invasion of HEp-2 cells. It is believed that HilD directly regulates hilA expression as it has been shown to bind to hilA promoter sequences. In addition, our research group, and others, have identified genes (hilE, hha, pag, and lon) that negatively affect hilA transcription. HilE appears to be an important Salmonella-specific regulator that plays a critical role in inactivating hilA expression. Recent work in our lab has been directed at understanding how environmental signals that affect hilA expression may be processed through a hilE pathway to modulate expression of hilA and the invasive phenotype. The current understanding of this complex regulatory system is reviewed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bacterial Proteins / genetics
  • Bacterial Proteins / metabolism*
  • Environment
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Bacterial*
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Salmonella / genetics
  • Salmonella / growth & development*
  • Salmonella / pathogenicity*
  • Salmonella Infections / microbiology
  • Virulence


  • Bacterial Proteins