Research Article

Chromobacterium violaceum genome: molecular mechanisms associated with pathogenicity

Abstract

Chromobacterium violaceum is a versatile, Gram-negative β-protebacterium that grows in a variety of ecosystems in tropical and subtropical areas, such as the water and borders of the Negro River, in the Amazon region of Brazil. Although it is a saprophyte and is generally considered non-pathogenic, sporadic cases of human infection have been described, mainly in young children and in immunodeficient individuals. Although rare, infections with C. violaceum are characterized by rapid dissemination and high mortality. With the complete genome sequence of C. violaceum now available, a detailed description of the molecular arsenal required for this bacterium’s remarkable versatility has been revealed. Most importantly, a more detailed picture of its biotechnological properties, including the characteristic violacein pigment, has emerged. The complete genome sequence also enabled us to make a thorough examination of the repertoire of genes encoding probable virulence factors, which determine the potential for pathogenesis. We described a number of genes involved in infectious processes, such as host cell adhesion, “contact-dependent secretion” of factors that promote cell invasion, as well as other virulence factors, such as cytolytic proteins. We also described genes involved with the synthesis of lipopolysaccharides and proteoglycan, known to elicit the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines and involved in the detoxification process, which may contribute to the evasion of the bacteria from the host immune response.

Chromobacterium violaceum is a versatile, Gram-negative β-protebacterium that grows in a variety of ecosystems in tropical and subtropical areas, such as the water and borders of the Negro River, in the Amazon region of Brazil. Although it is a saprophyte and is generally considered non-pathogenic, sporadic cases of human infection have been described, mainly in young children and in immunodeficient individuals. Although rare, infections with C. violaceum are characterized by rapid dissemination and high mortality. With the complete genome sequence of C. violaceum now available, a detailed description of the molecular arsenal required for this bacterium’s remarkable versatility has been revealed. Most importantly, a more detailed picture of its biotechnological properties, including the characteristic violacein pigment, has emerged. The complete genome sequence also enabled us to make a thorough examination of the repertoire of genes encoding probable virulence factors, which determine the potential for pathogenesis. We described a number of genes involved in infectious processes, such as host cell adhesion, “contact-dependent secretion” of factors that promote cell invasion, as well as other virulence factors, such as cytolytic proteins. We also described genes involved with the synthesis of lipopolysaccharides and proteoglycan, known to elicit the synthesis of pro-inflammatory cytokines and involved in the detoxification process, which may contribute to the evasion of the bacteria from the host immune response.

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