Na+/H+ antiporters are ubiquitous membrane proteins that play a central role in the ion homeostasis of cells. In this study, we examined the possible role of Na+/H+ antiport in Yersinia pestis virulence and found that Y. pestis strains lacking the major Na+/H+ antiporters, NhaA and NhaB, are completely attenuated in an in vivo model of plague. The Y. pestis derivative strain lacking the nhaA and nhaB genes showed markedly decreased survival in blood and blood serum ex vivo. Complementation of either nhaA or nhaB in trans restored the survival of the Y. pestis nhaA nhaB double deletion mutant in blood. The nhaA nhaB double deletion mutant also showed inhibited growth in an artificial serum medium, Opti-MEM, and a rich LB-based medium with Na+ levels and pH values similar to those for blood. Taken together, these data strongly suggest that intact Na+/H+ antiport is indispensable for the survival of Y. pestis in the bloodstreams of infected animals and thus might be regarded as a promising noncanonical drug target for infections caused by Y. pestis and possibly for those caused by other blood-borne bacterial pathogens.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases