Response to Hypoxia and the Ensuing Dysregulation of Inflammation Impacts Mycobacterium tuberculosis Pathogenicity

Allison N. Bucşan, Ashley Veatch, Dhiraj K. Singh, Sadia Akter, Nadia A. Golden, Melanie Kirkpatrick, Breanna Threeton, Chivonne Moodley, Mushtaq Ahmed, Lara A. Doyle, Kasi Russell-Lodrigue, Elizabeth B. Norton, Peter J. Didier, Chad J. Roy, Robert B. Abramovitch, Smriti Mehra, Shabaana A. Khader, Deepak Kaushal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Rationale: Different Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) strains exhibit variable degrees of virulence in humans and animal models. Differing stress response strategies used by different strains of Mtb could influence virulence. Objectives: We compared the virulence of two strains of Mtb with use in animal model research: CDC1551 and Erdman. Methods: Rhesus macaques, which develop human-like tuberculosis attributes and pathology, were infected with a high dose of either strain via aerosol, and virulence was compared by bacterial burden and pathology. Measurements and Main Results: Infection with Erdman resulted in significantly shorter times to euthanasia and higher bacterial burdens and greater systemic inflammation and lung pathology relative to those infected with CDC1551. Macaques infected with Erdman also exhibited significantly higher early inflammatory myeloid cell influx to the lung, greater macrophage and T cell activity, and higher expression of lung remodeling (extracellular matrix) genes, consistent with greater pathology. Expression of NOTCH4 (neurogenic locus notch homolog 4) signaling, which is induced in response to hypoxia and promotes undifferentiated cellular state, was also higher in Erdman-infected lungs. The granulomas generated by Erdman, and not CDC1551, infection appeared to have larger regions of necrosis, which is strongly associated with hypoxia. To better understand the mechanisms of differential hypoxia induction by these strains, we subjected both to hypoxia in vitro. Erdman induced higher concentrations of DosR regulon relative to CDC1551. The DosR regulon is the global regulator of response to hypoxia in Mtb and critical for its persistence in granulomas. Conclusions: Our results show that the response to hypoxia is a critical mediator of virulence determination in Mtb, with potential impacts on bacillary persistence, reactivation, and efficiency of therapeutics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)94-104
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of respiratory and critical care medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 1 2022


  • hypoxia
  • mycobacterium
  • tuberculosis


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