Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains disrupted in mce3 and mce4 operons are attenuated in mice

Senaratne, R H and Sidders, B and Sequeira, P and Saunders, G and Dunphy, K and Marjanovic, C and Reader, J R and Lima, P and Chan, S and Kendall, S L and McFadden, J and Riley, L W (2008) Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains disrupted in mce3 and mce4 operons are attenuated in mice. Journal of Medical Microbiology, 57 (2). pp. 164-170.

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Abstract

The Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome contains four copies of an operon called mce (mce1-4). Previously we reported that M. tuberculosis disrupted in the mce1 operon is more virulent than wild-type M. tuberculosis in mice. We generated single deletion mutants in mce3 (Delta mce3) and mce4 (Delta mce4) operons and a double deletion mutant (Delta mce3/4). Similar doubling times and growth characteristics were observed for all mutants and the wild-type (parent) M. tuberculosis H37Rv strain in culture and in macrophages. In addition, similar bacterial burdens were detected in organs from mice infected with Delta mce3 and the parent strain. However, the bacterial burdens of mice infected with Delta mce4 and Delta mce 3/4 were less than those of mice infected with the parent strain. The median survival times of mice infected with wild-type M. tuberculosis, Delta mce3, Delta mce4 and Delta mce3/4 were 40.5, 46, 58 and 62 weeks, respectively. Histopathological examination of lungs at 15 weeks post-infection showed that the extent of the lung lesions was less prominent in mice infected with Delta mce4 and Delta mce 3/4 mutants than in mice infected with the other two strains. These observations suggest that the mce3 and mce4 operons have a role distinct from that of mce1 for in vivo survival of M. tuberculosis.