Global gene expression analysis of the heat shock response in the phytopathogen Xylella fastidiosa
Xylella fastidiosa is a phytopathogenic bacterium that is responsible for diseases in many economically important crops. Although different strains have been studied, little is known about X. fastidiosa stress responses. One of the better characterized stress responses in bacteria is the heat shock response, which induces the expression of specific genes to prevent protein misfolding and aggregation and to promote degradation of the irreversibly denatured polypeptides. To investigate X. fastidiosa genes involved in the heat shock response, we performed a whole-genome microarray analysis in a time course experiment. Globally, 261 genes were induced (9.7%) and 222 genes were repressed (8.3%). The expression profiles of the differentially expressed genes were grouped, and their expression patterns were validated by quantitative reverse transcription-PCR experiments. We determined the transcription start sites of six heat shock-inducible genes and analyzed their promoter regions, which allowed us to propose a putative consensus for sigma(32) promoters in Xylella and to suggest additional genes as putative members of this regulon. Besides the induction of classical heat shock protein genes, we observed the up-regulation of virulence-associated genes such as vapD and of genes for hemagglutinins, hemolysin, and xylan-degrading enzymes, which may indicate the importance of heat stress to bacterial pathogenesis. In addition, we observed the repression of genes related to fimbriae, aerobic respiration, and protein biosynthesis and the induction of genes related to the extracytoplasmic stress response and some phage-related genes, revealing the complex network of genes that work together in response to heat shock.