TitleA Mycobacterium avium PPE gene is associated with the ability of the bacterium to grow in macrophages and virulence in mice.
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsLi, Y, Miltner, E, Wu, M, Petrofsky, M, Bermudez, LE
JournalCellular microbiology
Date Published2005 Apr

PPE and PE gene families, which encode numerous proteins of unknown function, account for 10% of Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome. Mycobacterium avium genome has similar PPE and PE gene families. Using a temperature-sensitive phage phAE94 transposon mutagenesis system, a M. avium transposon library was created in the strain MAC109. Screening of individual mutants in human U937 macrophages for the ability to replicate intracellularly, we identified several attenuated clones. One of them, the 2D6 mutant, has a transposon interrupting a PPE gene (52% homologous to Rv 1787 in M. tuberculosis) was identified. The mutant and the wild-type strain had comparable ability to enter macrophages. Challenge of mice with the 2D6 mutant resulted in approximately 1 log and 2 log fewer bacteria in the spleen, at 1 and 3 weeks after infection, compared with the wild-type bacterium. The 2D6 mutant grows like the wild-type bacterium in vitro. Vacuoles containing the 2D6 mutant acidified to pH 4.8; whereas, vacuoles containing wild-type bacterium were only slightly acidic. It was also observed that, in contrast to the wild-type bacterium, the 2D6 mutant did not prevent phagosome-lysosome fusion, and it is only expressed within macrophage but not in 7H9 broth. These results revealed a role for this PPE gene in the growth of M. avium in macrophages and in virulence in mice.