Brucellosis is primarily a disease of domestic animals in which the bacteria localizes to fetal tissues such as embryonic trophoblast cells and fluids containing erythritol, which stimulates Brucella spp. growth. The utilization of erythritol is a characteristic of the genus Brucella. The ery operon contains four genes (eryA, eryB, eryC and eryD) for the utilization of erythritol, and plays a major role in the survival and multiplication of Brucella spp. The objective of the present study was to conduct a preliminary characterization of differential genes expression of the ery operon at several time points after Brucella infected embryonic trophoblast cells (HPT-8 cells). The result showed that the ery operon expression was higher in HPT-8 cells compared with the medium. The relative expression of eryA, eryB and eryC peaked at 2 h post-infection in HPT-8 cells, and eryD expression peaked at 3 h post-infection. The expression of eryA, eryB and eryC may be inhibited by increased eryD expression. However, the expression of the ery operon was stable in the presence of erythritol in cells. 2308Δery and 027Δery mutants of the ery operon were successfully constructed by homologous recombination, which were attenuated in RAW 264.7 murine macrophages. The characterization of the ery operon genes and their expression profiles in response to Brucella infection further contributes to our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of infection and the pathogenesis of brucellosis.
Keywords: Brucella melitensis; HPT-8 cells; ery operon; reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction.