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An Essential Role for DNA Adenine Methylation in Bacterial Virulence

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Science  07 May 1999:
Vol. 284, Issue 5416, pp. 967-970
DOI: 10.1126/science.284.5416.967

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Abstract

Salmonella typhimurium lacking DNA adenine methylase (Dam) were fully proficient in colonization of mucosal sites but showed severe defects in colonization of deeper tissue sites. These Dam mutants were totally avirulent and were effective as live vaccines against murine typhoid fever. Dam regulated the expression of at least 20 genes known to be induced during infection; a subset of these genes are among those activated by the PhoP global virulence regulator. PhoP, in turn, affected Dam methylation at specific genomic sites, as evidenced by alterations in DNA methylation patterns. Dam inhibitors are likely to have broad antimicrobial action, and Dam derivatives of these pathogens may serve as live attenuated vaccines.

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