Serovars of Salmonella enterica exhibit different host-specificities where some have broad host-ranges and others, like S. Gallinarum and S. Typhi, are host-specific for poultry and humans, respectively. With the recent availability of whole genome sequences it has been reported that host-specificity coincides with accumulation of pseudogenes, indicating adaptation of host-restricted serovars to their narrow niches. Polyamines are small cationic amines and in Salmonella they can be synthesized through two alternative pathways directly from l-ornithine to putrescine and from l-arginine via agmatine to putrescine. The first pathway is not active in S. Gallinarum and S. Typhi, and this prompted us to investigate the importance of polyamines for virulence in S. Gallinarum. Bioinformatic analysis of all sequenced genomes of Salmonella revealed that pseudogene formation of the speC gene was exclusive for S. Typhi and S. Gallinarum and happened through independent events. The remaining polyamine biosynthesis pathway was found to be essential for oral infection with S. Gallinarum since single and double mutants in speB and speE, encoding the pathways from agmatine to putrescine and from putrescine to spermidine, were attenuated. In contrast, speB was dispensable after intraperitoneal challenge, suggesting that putrescine was less important for the systemic phase of the disease. In support of this hypothesis, a ΔspeE;ΔpotCD mutant, unable to synthesize and import spermidine, but with retained ability to import and synthesize putrescine, was attenuated after intraperitoneal infection. We therefore conclude that polyamines are essential for virulence of S. Gallinarum. Furthermore, our results point to distinct roles for putrescine and spermidine during systemic infection.
Schroll, C., Christensen, J. P., Christensen, H., Pors, S. E., Thorndahl, L., Jensen, P. R., Olsen, J. E., & Jelsbak, L. (2014). Polyamines are essential for virulence in Salmonella enterica serovar Gallinarum despite evolutionary decay of polyamine biosynthesis genes. Veterinary Microbiology, 170. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.vetmic.2014.01.034