In Vivo Gene Essentiality and Metabolism in Bordetella pertussis

mSphere. 2019 May 22;4(3):e00694-18. doi: 10.1128/mSphere.00694-18.


Bordetella pertussis is the causative agent of whooping cough, a serious respiratory illness affecting children and adults, associated with prolonged cough and potential mortality. Whooping cough has reemerged in recent years, emphasizing a need for increased knowledge of basic mechanisms of B. pertussis growth and pathogenicity. While previous studies have provided insight into in vitro gene essentiality of this organism, very little is known about in vivo gene essentiality, a critical gap in knowledge, since B. pertussis has no previously identified environmental reservoir and is isolated from human respiratory tract samples. We hypothesize that the metabolic capabilities of B. pertussis are especially tailored to the respiratory tract and that many of the genes involved in B. pertussis metabolism would be required to establish infection in vivo In this study, we generated a diverse library of transposon mutants and then used it to probe gene essentiality in vivo in a murine model of infection. Using the CON-ARTIST pipeline, 117 genes were identified as conditionally essential at 1 day postinfection, and 169 genes were identified as conditionally essential at 3 days postinfection. Most of the identified genes were associated with metabolism, and we utilized two existing genome-scale metabolic network reconstructions to probe the effects of individual essential genes on biomass synthesis. This analysis suggested a critical role for glucose metabolism and lipooligosaccharide biosynthesis in vivo This is the first genome-wide evaluation of in vivo gene essentiality in B. pertussis and provides tools for future exploration.IMPORTANCE Our study describes the first in vivo transposon sequencing (Tn-seq) analysis of B. pertussis and identifies genes predicted to be essential for in vivo growth in a murine model of intranasal infection, generating key resources for future investigations into B. pertussis pathogenesis and vaccine design.

Keywords: Bordetella; Bordetella pertussis; Tn-seq; gene essentiality; in vivo; metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bordetella pertussis / genetics*
  • Bordetella pertussis / metabolism*
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Gene Library
  • Genes, Essential*
  • Genome, Bacterial
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Lipopolysaccharides / biosynthesis
  • Mice
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Whooping Cough / microbiology*


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • lipid-linked oligosaccharides
  • Glucose