Mapping the Regulatory Network for Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhimurium Invasion

mBio. 2016 Sep 6;7(5):e01024-16. doi: 10.1128/mBio.01024-16.


Salmonella enterica pathogenicity island 1 (SPI-1) encodes proteins required for invasion of gut epithelial cells. The timing of invasion is tightly controlled by a complex regulatory network. The transcription factor (TF) HilD is the master regulator of this process and senses environmental signals associated with invasion. HilD activates transcription of genes within and outside SPI-1, including six other TFs. Thus, the transcriptional program associated with host cell invasion is controlled by at least 7 TFs. However, very few of the regulatory targets are known for these TFs, and the extent of the regulatory network is unclear. In this study, we used complementary genomic approaches to map the direct regulatory targets of all 7 TFs. Our data reveal a highly complex and interconnected network that includes many previously undescribed regulatory targets. Moreover, the network extends well beyond the 7 TFs, due to the inclusion of many additional TFs and noncoding RNAs. By comparing gene expression profiles of regulatory targets for the 7 TFs, we identified many uncharacterized genes that are likely to play direct roles in invasion. We also uncovered cross talk between SPI-1 regulation and other regulatory pathways, which, in turn, identified gene clusters that likely share related functions. Our data are freely available through an intuitive online browser and represent a valuable resource for the bacterial research community.

Importance: Invasion of epithelial cells is an early step during infection by Salmonella enterica and requires secretion of specific proteins into host cells via a type III secretion system (T3SS). Most T3SS-associated proteins required for invasion are encoded in a horizontally acquired genomic locus known as Salmonella pathogenicity island 1 (SPI-1). Multiple regulators respond to environmental signals to ensure appropriate timing of SPI-1 gene expression. In particular, there are seven transcription regulators that are known to be involved in coordinating expression of SPI-1 genes. We have used complementary genome-scale approaches to map the gene targets of these seven regulators. Our data reveal a highly complex and interconnected regulatory network that includes many previously undescribed target genes. Moreover, our data functionally implicate many uncharacterized genes in the invasion process and reveal cross talk between SPI-1 regulation and other regulatory pathways. All datasets are freely available through an intuitive online browser.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Endocytosis*
  • Epithelial Cells / microbiology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Regulatory Networks*
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • Regulon
  • Salmonella typhimurium / genetics*
  • Salmonella typhimurium / physiology*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics


  • RNA, Untranslated
  • Transcription Factors