Listeria monocytogenes is a Gram positive pathogen that is ubiquitous in the environment. It is a facultative anaerobic rod that causes listeriosis, a disease with potentially lethal consequences for susceptible individuals. During infection, the pathogen is capable of sequestering metal ions to act as vital biocatalysts in cellular processes. The zinc uptake regulator (ZurR) is predicted to coordinate uptake of zinc from the external environment. An in-frame deletion of the zurR gene resulted in a mutant exhibiting a small colony phenotype and a smaller cell size. The zurR mutant was unaffected under conditions of zinc limitation but demonstrated increased sensitivity to toxic levels of zinc. The mutant also demonstrated a significant (1-log) reduction in virulence potential in the murine model of infection. Using a bioinformatic approach, we identified a number of potentially Zur-regulated genes in the genome of L. monocytogenes. Quantitative RT-PCR demonstrated significant de-repression of zurA, lmo0153, and lmo1671 in the zurR mutant background indicating that these putative transporters are ZurR regulated.
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