Two promoters in the esx-3 gene cluster of Mycobacterium smegmatis respond inversely to different iron concentrations in vitro

Fang, Zhuo ; Newton-Foot, Mae ; Sampson, Samantha Leigh ; Gey Van Pittius, Nicolaas Claudius (2017-08)

CITATION: Fang, Z., et al. 2017. Two promoters in the esx-3 gene cluster of Mycobacterium smegmatis respond inversely to different iron concentrations in vitro. BMC Research Notes, 10:426, doi:10.1186/s13104-017-2752-0.

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Background The ESX secretion system, also known as the Type VII secretion system, is mostly found in mycobacteria and plays important roles in nutrient acquisition and host pathogenicity. One of the five ESXs, ESX-3, is associated with mycobactin-mediated iron acquisition. Although the functions of some of the membrane-associated components of the ESX systems have been described, the role of by mycosin-3 remains elusive. The esx-3 gene cluster encoding ESX-3 in both Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium smegmatis has two promoters, suggesting the presence of two transcriptional units. Previous studies indicated that the two promoters only showed a difference in response under acid stress (pH 4.2). This study aimed to study the effect of a mycosin-3 deletion on the physiology of M. smegmatis and to assess the promoter activities in wildtype, mycosin-3 mutant and complementation strains. Results The gene mycP 3 was deleted from wildtype M. smegmatis via homologous recombination. The mycP 3 gene was complemented in the deletion mutant using each of the two intrinsic promoters from the M. smegmatis esx-3 gene cluster. The four strains were compared in term of bacterial growth and intracellular iron content. The two promoter activities were assessed under iron-rich, iron-deprived and iron-rescued conditions by assessing the mycP 3 expression level. Although the mycP 3 gene deletion did not significantly impact bacterial growth or intracellular iron levels in comparison to the wild-type and complemented strains, the two esx-3 promoters were shown to respond inversely to iron deprivation and iron rescue. Conclusion This finding correlates with the previously published data that the first promoter upstream of msmeg0615, is upregulated under low iron levels but downregulated under high iron levels. In addition, the second promoter, upstream of msmeg0620, behaves in an inverse fashion to the first promoter implying that the genes downstream may have additional roles when the iron levels are high.

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