Mycobacterium tuberculosis requires regulation of ESX-5 secretion for virulence in irgm1-deficient mice

Sarah R. Elliott, Dylan W. White, Anna D. Tischler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Mycobacterium tuberculosis type VII secretion system ESX-5, which has been implicated in virulence, is activated at the transcriptional level by the phosphate starvation-responsive Pst/SenX3-RegX3 signal transduction system. Deletion of pstA1, which encodes a Pst phosphate transporter component, causes constitutive activation of the response regulator RegX3, hypersecretion of ESX-5 substrates and attenuation in the mouse infection model. We hypothesized that constitutive activation of ESX-5 secretion causes attenuation of the ΔpstA1 mutant. To test this, we uncoupled ESX-5 from regulation by RegX3. Using electrophoretic mobility shift assays, we defined a RegX3 binding site in the esx-5 locus. Deletion or mutation of the RegX3 binding site reversed hypersecretion of the ESX-5 substrate EsxN by the ΔpstA1 mutant and abrogated induction of EsxN secretion in response to phosphate limitation by wild-type M. tuberculosis. The esx-5 RegX3 binding site deletion (ΔBS) also suppressed attenuation of the ΔpstA1 mutant in Irgm1-/- mice. These data suggest that constitutive ESX-5 secretion sensitizes M. tuberculosis to an immune response that still occurs in Irgm1-/- mice. However, the ΔpstA1 ΔBS mutant remained attenuated in both NOS2-/- and C57BL/6 mice, suggesting that factors other than ESX-5 secretion also contribute to attenuation of the ΔpstA1 mutant. In addition, a ΔpstA1 ΔesxN mutant lacking the hypersecreted ESX-5 substrate EsxN remained attenuated in Irgm1-/- mice, suggesting that ESX-5 substrates other than EsxN cause increased susceptibility to host immunity. Our data indicate that while M. tuberculosis requires ESX-5 for virulence, it tightly controls secretion of ESX-5 substrates to avoid elimination by host immune responses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0066018
JournalInfection and immunity
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • ESX secretion
  • Gene regulation
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis
  • Phosphate
  • Pst system
  • SenX3-RegX3
  • Two-component regulatory systems
  • Type VII secretion

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

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