University of Illinois at Chicago
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Constitutive Activation of PrfA Tilts the Balance of Listeria monocytogenes Fitness Towards Life within the Host versus Environmental Survival

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posted on 2011-05-26, 00:00 authored by Joseph C. Jr. Bruno, Nancy E. Freitag
PrfA is a key regulator of Listeria monocytogenes pathogenesis and induces the expression of multiple virulence factors within the infected host. PrfA is post-translationally regulated such that the protein becomes activated upon bacterial entry into the cell cytosol. The signal that triggers PrfA activation remains unknown, however mutations have been identified (prfA* mutations) that lock the protein into a high activity state. In this report we examine the consequences of constitutive PrfA activation on L. monocytogenes fitness both in vitro and in vivo. Whereas prfA* mutants were hyper-virulent during animal infection, the mutants were compromised for fitness in broth culture and under conditions of stress. Broth culture prfA*-associated fitness defects were alleviated when glycerol was provided as the principal carbon source; under these conditions prfA* mutants exhibited a competitive advantage over wild type strains. Glycerol and other three carbon sugars have been reported to serve as primary carbon sources for L. monocytogenes during cytosolic growth, thus prfA* mutants are metabolically-primed for replication within eukaryotic cells. These results indicate the critical need for environment-appropriate regulation of PrfA activity to enable L. monocytogenes to optimize bacterial fitness inside and outside of host cells.


This work was supported by Public health service grant AI41816 (N.E.F) from NIAID.


Publisher Statement

The original source for this publication is at Public Library of Science. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0015138. © 2010 Bruno Jr., Freitag. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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