Biochem Biophys Rep. 2021 Mar 9;26:100960. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrep.2021.100960. eCollection 2021 Jul.
The existence of latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) is one of the main obstacles hindering eradication of tuberculosis (TB). To better understand molecular mechanisms and explore biomarkers for the pathogen during LTBI, we cultured strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) under stress conditions, mimicking those in the host granuloma intracellular environment, to induce entry into the non-replicating persistence stage. The stresses included hypoxia, low pH (5.0), iron deprivation (100 μM of 2, 2'-dipyridyl) and nutrient starvation (10% M7H9 medium). Three Mtb strains were studied: two clinical isolates (drug-susceptible Beijing (BJ) and multidrug-resistant Beijing (MDR-BJ) strains) and the reference laboratory strain, H37Rv. We investigated the proteomics profiles of these strains cultured in stressful conditions and then validated the findings by transcriptional analysis. NarJ (respiratory nitrate reductase delta chain) was significantly up-regulated at the protein level and the mRNA level in all three Mtb strains. The narJ gene is a member of the narGHJI operon encoding all nitrate reductase subunits, which play a role in nitrate metabolism during the adaptation of Mtb to stressful intracellular environments and the subsequent establishment of latent TB. The identification of up-regulated mRNAs and proteins of Mtb under stress conditions could assist development of biomarkers, drug targets and vaccine antigens.