1 September 2011
Chronic intestinal and hepatic colonization with the microaerophilic murine pathogen Helicobacter hepaticus can lead to a range of inflammatory diseases of the lower digestive tract. Colonization is associated with an active cellular immune response and production of oxygen radicals. During colonization, H. hepaticus needs to cope with and respond to oxidative stress, and here we report on the role of the H. hepaticus PerR-regulator (HH0942) in the expression of the peroxidase-encoding katA (HH0043) and ahpC (HH1564) genes. Transcription of katA and ahpC was induced by hydrogen peroxide, and by iron restriction of growth media. This iron- and hydrogen peroxide-responsive regulation of katA and ahpC was mediated at the transcriptional level, from promoters directly upstream of the genes. Inactivation of the perR gene resulted in constitutive, iron-independent high-level expression of the katA and ahpC transcripts and corresponding proteins. Finally, inactivation of the katA gene resulted in increased sensitivity of H. hepaticus to hydrogen peroxide and reduced aerotolerance. In H. hepaticus, iron metabolism and oxidative stress defense are intimately connected via the PerR regulatory protein. This regulatory pattern resembles that observed in the enteric pathogen Campylobacter jejuni, but contrasts with the pattern observed in the closely related human gastric pathogen Helicobacter pylori.