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Title: The study of candidate sialometabolism genes and sialometabolism gene regulation in Haemophilus influenzae
Author: Tsai, Chen Hsuan Sherry
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Sialic acid (SA) is a known major virulence factor of Haemophilus influenza (Hi). This study aims to analyse the functions of some candidate sialometabolism genes, and to further our current understanding on the Hi sialometabolism gene regulation. Two candidate sialometabolism genes (HI0227 and HI0148) and their adjacent ORFs (HI0228, HI0148.1 and HI0149) were studied. HI0148.1 and HI0149 are transcribed as a single gene in screened NTHi strains, and we refer to the combined ORF as NTHI0236 (the designation in strain 86-028NP). Across Hi strains screened, the sequences of HI0227, HI0148 and NTHI0236 are conserved. However, the sequence of HI0228 is heterogeneous. Mutants that lack the functions of HI0227, HI0228, HI0148 and NTHI0236 were compared to their respective wild type parent strains for ability to grow on SA (in aerobic and microaerophilic conditions), their ability to sialylate LPS and their ability to resist complement mediated killing. The mutants did not exhibit major differences in the tested aspects of sialometabolism compared to their respective wild type strains. Changes observed in some of the mutants in serum bactericidal assays and LPS profiles were due to the effect of phase variable genes. The sialometabolism functions of HI0227, HI0148, and NTHI0236 remain obscure, and we postulate that HI0228 is a pseudogene. Investigation of Hi sialometabolism gene regulation was conducted using mutants that lack different steps of the Neu5Ac catabolism pathway and the Neu5Ac activation pathway. The expression of nanE and siaP, respectively representing the Neu5Ac catabolism and transport operons, were assessed using RT-PCR and qPCR. We investigated a temporal/concentration effect of Neu5Ac on the expression of sialometabolism operons, which highlights the importance of studying the Hi sialometabolism gene regulation as a dynamic process. We further demonstrated that GlcN-6P, a Neu5Ac intermediate from the catabolism pathway, is likely the SIS sugar that interacts with SiaR, the repressor protein of the Hi sialometabolism operons. We postulate that upon binding of GlcN-6P to SiaR, the SiaR-mediated repression on the Hi sialometabolism operons is relieved, resulting in the induction of the expression of Neu5Ac catabolism and transport genes.
Supervisor: Hood, Derek Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Medical Sciences ; Paediatrics ; Infectious diseases ; Haemophilus influenzae ; sialometabolism