Journal of Bacteriology

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ISSN / EISSN : 0021-9193 / 1098-5530
Published by: American Society for Microbiology (10.1128)
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Anastasia Gant Kanegusuku, Isidora N. Stankovic, Pamela A. Cote-Hammarlof, Priscilla H. Yong, Christine A. White-Ziegler
Journal of Bacteriology; https://doi.org/10.1128/jb.00363-21

Abstract:
One of the first environmental cues sensed by a microbe as it enters a human host is an upshift in temperature to 37°C. In this dynamic timepoint analysis, we demonstrate that this environmental transition rapidly signals a multitude of gene expression changes in Escherichia coli . Bacteria grown at 23°C under aerobic conditions were shifted to 37°C and mRNA expression was measured at timepoints after the shift to 37°C (t=0.5, 1, and 4 hours). The first hour is characterized by a transient shift to anaerobic respiration strategies and stress responses, particularly acid resistance, indicating that temperature serves as a sentinel cue to predict and prepare for various niches within the host. The temperature effects on a subset of stress response genes were shown to be mediated by RpoS, directly correlated with RpoS, DsrA and RprA levels, and increased acid resistance was observed that was dependent on 23°C growth and RpoS. By 4 hours, gene expression shifted to aerobic respiration pathways, decreased stress responses, coupled with increases in genes associated with biosynthesis (amino acid, nucleotides), iron uptake, and host defense. ompT , a gene that confers resistance to antimicrobial peptides, was highly thermoregulated and with a pattern conserved in enteropathogenic and uropathogenic E. coli . An immediate decrease in curli gene expression concomitant with an increase in flagellar gene expression implicates temperature in this developmental decision. Together, our studies demonstrate that temperature signals a reprogramming of gene expression immediately upon an upshift that may predict, prepare, and benefit survival of the bacterium within the host. IMPORTANCE: As one of the first cues sensed by the microbe upon entry into a human host, understanding how bacteria like E. coli modulate gene expression in response to temperature improves our understanding of how bacteria immediately initiate responses beneficial to survival and colonization. For pathogens, understanding the various pathways of thermal regulation could yield valuable targets for anti-infective chemotherapeutic drugs or disinfection measures. In addition, our data provide a dynamic examination of the RpoS stress response, providing genome-wide support for how temperature impacts RpoS through changes in RpoS stability and modulation by small regulatory RNAs.
Hemendra Pal Singh Dhaked, Luyang Cao,
Journal of Bacteriology; https://doi.org/10.1128/jb.00330-21

Abstract:
Streptococcus mutans , a dental pathogen, encodes the ComDE two-component system comprised of a histidine kinase (ComD) and a response regulator (ComE). This system is necessary for production of bacteriocins and development of genetic competence. ComE interacts with its cognate promoters to activate the transcription of bacteriocin and competence related genes. Previous transcriptomic studies indicated that expressions of bacteriocin genes were upregulated in the presence of oxygen. To understand the relationship between the aerobic condition and bacteriocin expression, we analyzed the S. mutans ComE sequence and its close homologs. Surprisingly, we noticed the presence of cysteine (Cys) residues located at positions 200 and 229, which are highly conserved among the ComE homologs. Here we investigated the role of Cys residues of S. mutans ComE in the activation of bacteriocin transcription using the P nlmA promoter that expresses bacteriocin NlmA. We constructed both single mutants and double mutants by replacing the Cys residues with serine and performed complementation assays. We observed that the presence of Cys residues is essential for P nlmA activation. With purified ComE mutant proteins we found that ComE double mutants displayed a nearly two-fold lower association rate than wild-type ComE. Furthermore, ANS fluorescence studies indicated that the double mutants displayed wider conformation changes than wild-type ComE. Finally, we demonstrated that close streptococcal ComE homologs successfully activate the P nlmA expression in vivo . This is the first report suggesting that S. mutans ComE and its homologs can sense the oxidation status of the cell, a phenomenon similar to the AgrA system of Staphylococcus aureus but with different outcome. IMPORTANCE Streptococci are an important species that prefer to grow under anaerobic or microaerophilic environments. Studies have shown that streptococci growth in an aerobic environment generates oxidative stress responses by activating various defense systems including production of antimicrobial peptides called bacteriocins. This study highlights the importance of a two-component response regulator (ComE) that senses the aerobic environment and induces bacteriocin production in Streptococcus mutans , a dental pathogen. We believe increased bacteriocin secretion under aerobic conditions is necessary for survival and colonization of S. mutans in the oral cavity by inhibiting other competing organisms. Redox sensing by response regulator might be a wide-spread phenomenon, since two other ComE homologs from pathogenic streptococci that inhabit diverse environmental niches also perform a similar function.
M. I. Islam, J. H. Bae, T Ishida, P Ridone, J Lin, M. J. Kelso, Y Sowa, B. J. Buckley,
Journal of Bacteriology; https://doi.org/10.1128/jb.00367-21

Abstract:
The bacterial flagellar motor (BFM) is a protein complex that confers motility to cells and contributes to survival and virulence. The BFM consists of stators that are ion-selective membrane protein complexes and a rotor that directly connects to a large filament, acting as a propeller. The stator complexes couple ion transit across the membrane to torque that drives rotation of the motor. The most common ion gradients that drive BFM rotation are protons (H + ) and sodium ions (Na + ). The sodium-powered stators, like those in the PomAPomB stator complex of Vibrio spp, can be inhibited by sodium channel inhibitors, in particular, by phenamil, a potent and widely used inhibitor. However, relatively few new sodium-motility inhibitors have been described since the discovery of phenamil. In this study, we characterised two possible motility inhibitors HM2-16F and BB2-50F from a small library of previously reported amiloride derivatives. We used three approaches: effect on rotation of tethered cells, effect on free swimming bacteria and effect on rotation of marker beads. We showed that both HM2-16F and BB2-50F stopped rotation of tethered cells driven by Na + motors comparable to phenamil at matching concentrations, and could also stop rotation of tethered cells driven by H + motors. Bead measurements in presence and absence of stators confirmed that the compounds did not inhibit rotation via direct association with the stator, in contrast to the established mode of action of phenamil. Overall, HM2-16F and BB2-50F stopped swimming in both Na + and H + stator types, and in pathogenic and non-pathogenic strains. Importance: Here we characterised two novel amiloride derivatives in the search for antimicrobial compounds that target bacterial motility. Our two compounds were shown to inhibit flagellar motility at 10 μM across multiple strains, from non-pathogenic E. coli with flagellar rotation driven by proton or chimeric sodium-powered stators, to proton-powered pathogenic E. coli (EHEC/UPEC) and lastly in sodium-powered Vibrio alginolyticus . Broad anti-motility compounds such as these are important tools in our efforts control virulence of pathogens in health and agricultural settings.
Eon-Min Ko, Ju-Yeon Kim, Sujin Lee, Suhkmann Kim, Jihwan Hwang,
Journal of Bacteriology; https://doi.org/10.1128/jb.00402-21

Abstract:
Mycobacterium smegmatis has two isocitrate lyase (ICL) isozymes (MSMEG_0911 and MSMEG_3706). We demonstrated that ICL1 (MSMEG_0911) is the predominantly expressed ICL in M. smegmatis and plays a major role in growth on acetate or fatty acid as the sole carbon and energy source. Expression of the icl1 gene in M. smegmatis was demonstrated to be strongly upregulated during growth on acetate relative to that in M. smegmatis grown on glucose. Expression of icl1 was shown to be positively regulated by the RamB activator, and three RamB-binding sites (RamBS1, RamBS2, and RamBS3) were identified in the upstream region of icl1 using DNase I footprinting analysis. Succinyl-CoA was shown to increase the binding affinity of RamB to its binding sites and enable RamB to bind to RamBS2 that is the most important site for RamB-mediated induction of icl1 expression. These results suggest that succinyl-CoA serves as a coinducer molecule for RamB. Our study also showed that cAMP receptor protein (Crp1: MSMEG_6189) represses icl1 expression in M. smegmatis grown in the presence of glucose. Therefore, the strong induction of icl1 expression during growth on acetate as the sole carbon source relative to the weak expression of icl1 during growth on glucose is likely to result from combined effects of RamB-mediated induction of icl1 in the presence of acetate and Crp-mediated repression of icl1 in the presence of glucose. IMPORTANCE Carbon flux through the glyoxylate shunt has been suggested to affect virulence, persistence, and antibiotic resistance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis . Therefore, it is important to understand the precise mechanism underlying the regulation of the icl gene encoding the key enzyme of the glyoxylate shunt. Using Mycobacterium smegmatis , this study revealed the regulation mechanism underlying induction of icl1 expression in M. smegmatis when the glyoxylate shunt is required. The conservation of the cis - and trans -acting regulatory elements related to icl1 regulation in both M. smegmatis and M. tuberculosis implies that the similar regulatory mechanism operates for the regulation of icl1 expression in M. tuberculosis .
Swetha Kassety, Stefan Katharios-Lanwermeyer, George A. O’Toole,
Journal of Bacteriology; https://doi.org/10.1128/jb.00265-21

Abstract:
Pseudomonas aeruginosa strains PA14 and PAO1 are among the two best characterized model organisms used to study the mechanisms of biofilm formation, while also representing two distinct lineages of P. aeruginosa . Previous work has shown that PA14 and PAO1 use different strategies for surface colonization; they also have different extracellular matrix composition and different propensities to disperse from biofilms back into the planktonic phase surrounding them. We expand on this work here by exploring the consequences of these different biofilm production strategies during direct competition. Using differentially labeled strains and microfluidic culture methods, we show that PAO1 can outcompete PA14 in direct competition during early colonization and subsequent biofilm growth, that they can do so in constant and perturbed environments, and that this advantage is specific to biofilm growth and requires production of the Psl polysaccharide. In contrast, the P. aeruginosa PA14 is better able to invade pre-formed biofilms and is more inclined to remain surface-associated under starvation conditions. These data together suggest that while P. aeruginosa PAO1 and PA14 are both able to effectively colonize surfaces, they do so in different ways that are advantageous under different environmental settings. Importance Recent studies indicate that P. aeruginosa PAO1 and PA14 use distinct strategies to initiate biofilm formation. We investigated whether their respective colonization and matrix secretion strategies impact their ability to compete under different biofilm-forming regimes. Our work shows that these different strategies do indeed impact how these strains fair in direct competition: PAO1 dominates during colonization of a naïve surface, while PA14 is more effective in colonizing a pre-formed biofilm. These data suggest that even for very similar microbes there can be distinct strategies to successfully colonize and persist on surfaces during the biofilm life cycle.
Corelle A. Z. Rokicki, James R. Brenner, Alexander H. Dills, Julius J. Judd, Jemila C. Kester, Julia Puffal, Ian L. Sparks, Malavika Prithviraj, Brittany R. Anderson, , et al.
Journal of Bacteriology; https://doi.org/10.1128/jb.00419-21

Abstract:
Mycobacteria spatially organize their plasma membrane, and many enzymes involved in envelope biosynthesis associate with a membrane compartment termed the intracellular membrane domain (IMD). The IMD is concentrated in the polar regions of growing cells and becomes less polarized under non-growing conditions. Because mycobacteria elongate from the poles, the observed polar localization of the IMD during growth likely supports the localized biosynthesis of envelope components. While we have identified more than 300 IMD-associated proteins by proteomic analyses, only a handful of these have been verified by independent experimental methods. Furthermore, some IMD-associated proteins may have escaped proteomic identification and remain to be identified. Here, we visually screened an arrayed library of 523 Mycobacterium smegmatis strains, each producing a Dendra2-FLAG-tagged recombinant protein. We identified 29 fusion proteins that showed polar fluorescence patterns characteristic of IMD proteins. Twenty of these had previously been suggested to localize to the IMD based on proteomic data. Of the nine remaining IMD candidate proteins, three were confirmed by biochemical methods to be associated with the IMD. Taken together, this new co-localization strategy is effective in verifying the IMD association of proteins found by proteomic analyses, while facilitating the discovery of additional IMD-associated proteins. Importance The intracellular membrane domain (IMD) is a membrane subcompartment found in Mycobacterium smegmatis cells. Proteomic analysis of purified IMD identified more than 300 proteins, including enzymes involved in cell envelope biosynthesis. However, proteomics on its own is unlikely to detect every IMD-associated protein because of technical and biological limitations. Here, we describe fluorescent protein co-localization as an alternative, independent approach. Using a combination of fluorescence microscopy, proteomics, and subcellular fractionation, we identified three new proteins associated with the IMD. Such a robust method to rigorously define IMD proteins will benefit future investigations to decipher the synthesis, maintenance and functions of this membrane domain, and help delineate a more general mechanisms of subcellular protein localization in mycobacteria.
Journal of Bacteriology; https://doi.org/10.1128/jb.00344-21

Abstract:
Small membrane proteins represent a subset of recently discovered small proteins (≤100 amino acids), which are a ubiquitous class of emerging regulators underlying bacterial adaptation to environmental stressors. Until relatively recently, small open reading frames encoding these proteins were not designated as genes in genome annotations. Therefore, our understanding of small protein biology was primarily limited to a few candidates associated with previously characterized larger partner proteins. Following the first systematic analyses of small proteins in E. coli over a decade ago, numerous small proteins have been uncovered across different bacteria. An estimated one-third of these newly discovered proteins are localized to the cell membrane, where they may interact with distinct groups of membrane proteins such as signal receptors, transporters, and enzymes, and affect their activities. Recently, there has been considerable progress in functionally characterizing small membrane protein regulators aided by innovative tools adapted specifically to study small proteins. Our review covers prototypical proteins that modulate a broad range of cellular processes such as transport, signal transduction, stress response, respiration, cell division, sporulation as well as membrane stability. Thus, small membrane proteins represent a versatile group of regulators of physiology not just at the membrane but the whole cell. Additionally, small membrane proteins have the potential for clinical applications, where some of the proteins may act as antibacterial agents themselves, while others serve as alternative drug targets for the development of novel antimicrobials.
Alex J. Pollock, Philip H. Choi, Shivam A. Zaver, Liang Tong, Joshua J. Woodward
Journal of Bacteriology, Volume 203; https://doi.org/10.1128/jb.00080-21

Abstract:
C-di-AMP is an important nucleotide second messenger for which detection methods are severely limited. In this work we engineered and implemented a c-di-AMP-specific FRET biosensor to remedy this dearth. We present this biosensor, CDA5, as a versatile tool to investigate previously intractable facets of c-di-AMP biology.
Omar Abdul-Rahim, Qihao Wu, Travis K. Price, Giuseppe Pistone, Katherine Diebel, Tim S. Bugni,
Journal of Bacteriology, Volume 203; https://doi.org/10.1128/jb.00360-21

Abstract:
Although Lactobacillus crispatus is an established commensal microbe frequently used in probiotics, its protective role in the bladder microbiome has not been clarified. We report here that some urinary isolates of L. crispatus exhibit bactericidal activity, primarily due to its ability to excrete phenyl-lactic acid into its environment.
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