, Volume 46, Issue 6, pp 0461-0466

The Role of the sigB Gene in the General Stress Response of Listeria monocytogenes Varies between a Strain of Serotype 1/2a and a Strain of Serotype 4c

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The ability of Listeria monocytogenes to resist many adverse environmental conditions has been attributed in part to activation of the alternative sigma factor ςB, encoded by the sigB gene. The ability of this pathogen to survive and grow under stress conditions varies between strains within the species. The current study was undertaken to determine whether the role played by the sigB gene in the stress response varies among strains of different serotypes. Null mutations were generated in the sigB genes of L. monocytogenes L61 (serotype 1/2a) and L99 (serotype 4c), and the survival of the resulting mutants was compared with that of the wild-type strains under osmotic, oxidative, and carbon starvation stress conditions and on exposure to bacteriocins, ethanol, acid, and heat. Except in a few cases, strain L61 displayed greater dependence on the sigB products for survival of adverse conditions than did strain L99. The results of this study indicated that the relative importance of the sigB gene in the stress response is not the same in all strains of L. monocytogenes, and this difference may be specific to serotype groupings within the species.

Received: 8 May 2002 / Accepted: 27 August 2002