skip to main content

Title: hipBA toxin-antitoxin systems mediate persistence in Caulobacter crescentus

Antibiotic persistence is a transient phenotypic state during which a bacterium can withstand otherwise lethal antibiotic exposure or environmental stresses. InEscherichia coli, persistence is promoted by the HipBA toxin-antitoxin system. The HipA toxin functions as a serine/threonine kinase that inhibits cell growth, while the HipB antitoxin neutralizes the toxin.E. coliHipA inactivates the glutamyl-tRNA synthetase GltX, which inhibits translation and triggers the highly conserved stringent response. AlthoughhipBAoperons are widespread in bacterial genomes, it is unknown if this mechanism is conserved in other species. Here we describe the functions of threehipBAmodules in the alpha-proteobacteriumCaulobacter crescentus. The HipA toxins have different effects on growth and macromolecular syntheses, and they phosphorylate distinct substrates. HipA1and HipA2contribute to antibiotic persistence during stationary phase by phosphorylating the aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases GltX and TrpS. The stringent response regulator SpoT is required for HipA-mediated antibiotic persistence, but persister cells can form in the absence of allhipBAoperons orspoT, indicating that multiple pathways lead to persister cell formation inC. crescentus.

; ; ; ;
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Nature Publishing Group
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. Abstract Background Second messengers, c-di-GMP and (p)ppGpp, are vital regulatory molecules in bacteria, influencing cellular processes such as biofilm formation, transcription, virulence, quorum sensing, and proliferation. While c-di-GMP and (p)ppGpp are both synthesized from GTP molecules, they play antagonistic roles in regulating the cell cycle. In C. crescentus , c-di-GMP works as a major regulator of pole morphogenesis and cell development. It inhibits cell motility and promotes S-phase entry by inhibiting the activity of the master regulator, CtrA. Intracellular (p)ppGpp accumulates under starvation, which helps bacteria to survive under stressful conditions through regulating nucleotide levels and halting proliferation. (p)ppGpp responds to nitrogen levels through RelA-SpoT homolog enzymes, detecting glutamine concentration using a nitrogen phosphotransferase system (PTS Ntr ). This work relates the guanine nucleotide-based second messenger regulatory network with the bacterial PTS Ntr system and investigates how bacteria respond to nutrient availability. Results We propose a mathematical model for the dynamics of c-di-GMP and (p)ppGpp in C. crescentus and analyze how the guanine nucleotide-based second messenger system responds to certain environmental changes communicated through the PTS Ntr system. Our mathematical model consists of seven ODEs describing the dynamics of nucleotides and PTS Ntr enzymes. Our simulations are consistent with experimentalmore »observations and suggest, among other predictions, that SpoT can effectively decrease c-di-GMP levels in response to nitrogen starvation just as well as it increases (p)ppGpp levels. Thus, the activity of SpoT (or its homologues in other bacterial species) can likely influence the cell cycle by influencing both c-di-GMP and (p)ppGpp. Conclusions In this work, we integrate current knowledge and experimental observations from the literature to formulate a novel mathematical model. We analyze the model and demonstrate how the PTS Ntr system influences (p)ppGpp, c-di-GMP, GMP and GTP concentrations. While this model does not consider all aspects of PTS Ntr signaling, such as cross-talk with the carbon PTS system, here we present our first effort to develop a model of nutrient signaling in C. crescentus .« less
  2. ABSTRACT As an obligate intracellular, developmentally regulated bacterium, Chlamydia is sensitive to amino acid fluctuations within its host cell. When human epithelial cells are treated with the cytokine interferon gamma (IFN-γ), the tryptophan (Trp)-degrading enzyme, indoleamine-2,3-dioxygenase, is induced. Chlamydiae within such cells are starved for Trp and enter a state of so-called persistence. Chlamydia lacks the stringent response used by many eubacteria to respond to this stress. Unusually, chlamydial transcription is globally elevated during Trp starvation with transcripts for Trp codon-containing genes disproportionately increased. Yet, the presence of Trp codons destabilized 3′ ends of transcripts in operons or large genes. We initially hypothesized that ribosome stalling on Trp codons rendered the 3′ ends sensitive to RNase activity. The half-life of chlamydial transcripts containing different numbers of Trp codons was thus measured in untreated and IFN-γ-treated infected cells to determine whether Trp codons influenced the stability of transcripts. However, no effect of Trp codon content was detected. Therefore, we investigated whether Rho-dependent transcription termination could play a role in mediating transcript instability. Rho is expressed as a midcycle gene product, interacts with itself as predicted, and is present in all chlamydial species. Inhibition of Rho via the Rho-specific antibiotic, bicyclomycin, andmore »overexpression of Rho are detrimental to chlamydiae. Finally, when we measured transcript abundance 3′ to Trp codons in the presence of bicyclomycin, we observed that transcript abundance increased. These data are the first to demonstrate the importance of Rho in Chlamydia and the role of Rho-dependent transcription polarity during persistence.« less
  3. One integral step in the transition from a nucleic acid encoded-genome to functional proteins is the aminoacylation of tRNA molecules. To perform this activity, aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) activate free amino acids in the cell forming an aminoacyl-adenylate before transferring the amino acid on to its cognate tRNA. These newly formed aminoacyl-tRNA (aa-tRNA) can then be used by the ribosome during mRNA decoding. In Escherichia coli, there are twenty aaRSs encoded in the genome, each of which corresponds to one of the twenty proteinogenic amino acids used in translation. Given the shared chemicophysical properties of many amino acids, aaRSs have evolved mechanisms to prevent erroneous aa-tRNA formation with non-cognate amino acid substrates. Of particular interest is the post-transfer proofreading activity of alanyl-tRNA synthetase (AlaRS) which prevents the accumulation of Ser-tRNAAla and Gly-tRNAAla in the cell. We have previously shown that defects in AlaRS proofreading of Ser-tRNAAla lead to global dysregulation of the E. coli proteome, subsequently causing defects in growth, motility, and antibiotic sensitivity. Here we report second-site AlaRS suppressor mutations that alleviate the aforementioned phenotypes, revealing previously uncharacterized residues within the AlaRS proofreading domain that function in quality control.
  4. Gottesman, Susan (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Pathogenicity islands and plasmids bear genes for pathogenesis of various Escherichia coli pathotypes. Although there is a basic understanding of the contribution of these virulence factors to disease, less is known about variation in regulatory networks in determining disease phenotypes. Here, we dissected a regulatory network directed by the conserved iron homeostasis regulator, ferric uptake regulator (Fur), in uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) strain CFT073. Comparing anaerobic genome-scale Fur DNA binding with Fur-dependent transcript expression and protein levels of the uropathogen to that of commensal E. coli K-12 strain MG1655 showed that the Fur regulon of the core genome is conserved but also includes genes within the pathogenicity/genetic islands. Unexpectedly, regulons indicative of amino acid limitation and the general stress response were also indirectly activated in the uropathogen fur mutant, suggesting that induction of the Fur regulon increases amino acid demand. Using RpoS levels as a proxy, addition of amino acids mitigated the stress. In addition, iron chelation increased RpoS to the same levels as in the fur mutant. The increased amino acid demand of the fur mutant or iron chelated cells was exacerbated by aerobic conditions, which could be partly explained by the O 2 -dependent synthesis of themore »siderophore aerobactin, encoded by an operon within a pathogenicity island. Taken together, these data suggest that in the iron-poor environment of the urinary tract, amino acid availability could play a role in the proliferation of this uropathogen, particularly if there is sufficient O 2 to produce aerobactin. IMPORTANCE Host iron restriction is a common mechanism for limiting the growth of pathogens. We compared the regulatory network controlled by Fur in uropathogenic E. coli (UPEC) to that of nonpathogenic E. coli K-12 to uncover strategies that pathogenic bacteria use to overcome iron limitation. Although iron homeostasis functions were regulated by Fur in the uropathogen as expected, a surprising finding was the activation of the stringent and general stress responses in the uropathogen fur mutant, which was rescued by amino acid addition. This coordinated global response could be important in controlling growth and survival under nutrient-limiting conditions and during transitions from the nutrient-rich environment of the lower gastrointestinal (GI) tract to the more restrictive environment of the urinary tract. The coupling of the response of iron limitation to increased demand for amino acids could be a critical attribute that sets UPEC apart from other E. coli pathotypes.« less
  5. Abstract

    Previous studies have shown the sugarcane microbiome harbors diverse plant growth promoting microorganisms, including nitrogen-fixing bacteria (diazotrophs), which can serve as biofertilizers. The genomes of 22 diazotrophs from Colombian sugarcane fields were sequenced to investigate potential biofertilizers. A genome-enabled computational phenotyping approach was developed to prioritize sugarcane associated diazotrophs according to their potential as biofertilizers. This method selects isolates that have potential for nitrogen fixation and other plant growth promoting (PGP) phenotypes while showing low risk for virulence and antibiotic resistance. Intact nitrogenase (nif)genes and operons were found in 18 of the isolates. Isolates also encode phosphate solubilization and siderophore production operons, and other PGP genes. The majority of sugarcane isolates showed uniformly low predicted virulence and antibiotic resistance compared to clinical isolates. Six strains with the highest overall genotype scores were experimentally evaluated for nitrogen fixation, phosphate solubilization, and the production of siderophores, gibberellic acid, and indole acetic acid. Results from the biochemical assays were consistent and validated computational phenotype predictions. A genotypic and phenotypic threshold was observed that separated strains by their potential for PGP versus predicted pathogenicity. Our results indicate that computational phenotyping is a promising tool for the assessment of bacteria detected in agricultural ecosystems.