Sepsis resulting from microbial colonization of the bloodstream is a serious health concern associated with high mortality rates. The objective of this study was to define the physiologic requirements of Citrobacter freundii in the bloodstream as a model for bacteremia caused by opportunistic Gram-negative pathogens. A genetic screen in a murine host identified 177 genes that contributed significantly to fitness, the majority of which were broadly classified as having metabolic or cellular maintenance functions. Among the pathways examined, the Tat protein secretion system conferred the single largest fitness contribution during competition infections and a putative Tat-secreted protein, SufI, was also identified as a fitness factor. Additional work was focused on identifying relevant metabolic pathways for bacteria in the bloodstream environment. Mutations that eliminated the use of glucose or mannitol as carbon sources in vitro resulted in loss of fitness in the murine model and similar results were obtained upon disruption of the cysteine biosynthetic pathway. Finally, the conservation of identified fitness factors was compared within a cohort of Citrobacter bloodstream isolates and between Citrobacter and Serratia marcescens, the results of which suggest the presence of conserved strategies for bacterial survival and replication in the bloodstream environment.
Journal: Scientific reports