skip to main content

Title: Trehalose Recycling Promotes Energy-Efficient Biosynthesis of the Mycobacterial Cell Envelope
ABSTRACT The mycomembrane layer of the mycobacterial cell envelope is a barrier to environmental, immune, and antibiotic insults. There is considerable evidence of mycomembrane plasticity during infection and in response to host-mimicking stresses. Since mycobacteria are resource and energy limited under these conditions, it is likely that remodeling has distinct requirements from those of the well-characterized biosynthetic program that operates during unrestricted growth. Unexpectedly, we found that mycomembrane remodeling in nutrient-starved, nonreplicating mycobacteria includes synthesis in addition to turnover. Mycomembrane synthesis under these conditions occurs along the cell periphery, in contrast to the polar assembly of actively growing cells, and both liberates and relies on the nonmammalian disaccharide trehalose. In the absence of trehalose recycling, de novo trehalose synthesis fuels mycomembrane remodeling. However, mycobacteria experience ATP depletion, enhanced respiration, and redox stress, hallmarks of futile cycling and the collateral dysfunction elicited by some bactericidal antibiotics. Inefficient energy metabolism compromises the survival of trehalose recycling mutants in macrophages. Our data suggest that trehalose recycling alleviates the energetic burden of mycomembrane remodeling under stress. Cell envelope recycling pathways are emerging targets for sensitizing resource-limited bacterial pathogens to host and antibiotic pressure. IMPORTANCE The glucose-based disaccharide trehalose is a stress protectant and carbon more » source in many nonmammalian cells. Mycobacteria are relatively unique in that they use trehalose for an additional, extracytoplasmic purpose: to build their outer “myco” membrane. In these organisms, trehalose connects mycomembrane biosynthesis and turnover to central carbon metabolism. Key to this connection is the retrograde transporter LpqY-SugABC. Unexpectedly, we found that nongrowing mycobacteria synthesize mycomembrane under carbon limitation but do not require LpqY-SugABC. In the absence of trehalose recycling, compensatory anabolism allows mycomembrane biosynthesis to continue. However, this workaround comes at a cost, namely, ATP consumption, increased respiration, and oxidative stress. Strikingly, these phenotypes resemble those elicited by futile cycles and some bactericidal antibiotics. We demonstrate that inefficient energy metabolism attenuates trehalose recycling mutant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in macrophages. Energy-expensive macromolecule biosynthesis triggered in the absence of recycling may be a new paradigm for boosting host activity against bacterial pathogens. « less
; ; ; ;
Hatfull, Graham F.
Award ID(s):
Publication Date:
Journal Name:
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
More Like this
  1. ABSTRACT The success of Mycobacterium tuberculosis as a human pathogen is due in part to its ability to survive stress conditions, such as hypoxia or nutrient deprivation, by entering nongrowing states. In these low-metabolism states, M. tuberculosis can tolerate antibiotics and develop genetically encoded antibiotic resistance, making its metabolic adaptation to stress crucial for survival. Numerous bacteria, including M. tuberculosis , have been shown to reduce their rates of mRNA degradation under growth limitation and stress. While the existence of this response appears to be conserved across species, the underlying bacterial mRNA stabilization mechanisms remain unknown. To better understand the biology of nongrowing mycobacteria, we sought to identify the mechanistic basis of mRNA stabilization in the nonpathogenic model Mycobacterium smegmatis . We found that mRNA half-life was responsive to energy stress, with carbon starvation and hypoxia causing global mRNA stabilization. This global stabilization was rapidly reversed when hypoxia-adapted cultures were reexposed to oxygen, even in the absence of new transcription. The stringent response and RNase levels did not explain mRNA stabilization, nor did transcript abundance. This led us to hypothesize that metabolic changes during growth cessation impact the activities of degradation proteins, increasing mRNA stability. Indeed, bedaquiline and isoniazid, twomore »drugs with opposing effects on cellular energy status, had opposite effects on mRNA half-lives in growth-arrested cells. Taken together, our results indicate that mRNA stability in mycobacteria is not directly regulated by growth status but rather is dependent on the status of energy metabolism. IMPORTANCE The logistics of tuberculosis therapy are difficult, requiring multiple drugs for many months. Mycobacterium tuberculosis survives in part by entering nongrowing states in which it is metabolically less active and thus less susceptible to antibiotics. Basic knowledge on how M. tuberculosis survives during these low-metabolism states is incomplete, and we hypothesize that optimized energy resource management is important. Here, we report that slowed mRNA turnover is a common feature of mycobacteria under energy stress but is not dependent on the mechanisms that have generally been postulated in the literature. Finally, we found that mRNA stability and growth status can be decoupled by a drug that causes growth arrest but increases metabolic activity, indicating that mRNA stability responds to metabolic status rather than to growth rate per se . Our findings suggest a need to reorient studies of global mRNA stabilization to identify novel mechanisms that are presumably responsible.« less
  2. Moreno, Silvia N. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT During their parasitic life cycle, through sandflies and vertebrate hosts, Leishmania parasites confront strikingly different environments, including abrupt changes in pH and temperature, to which they must rapidly adapt. These adaptations include alterations in Leishmania gene expression, metabolism, and morphology, allowing them to thrive as promastigotes in the sandfly and as intracellular amastigotes in the vertebrate host. A critical aspect of Leishmania metabolic adaptation to these changes is maintenance of efficient mitochondrial function in the hostile vertebrate environment. Such functions, including generation of ATP, depend upon the expression of many mitochondrial proteins, including subunits of cytochrome c oxidase (COX). Significantly, under mammalian temperature conditions, expression of Leishmania major COX subunit IV (LmCOX4) and virulence are dependent upon two copies of LACK , a gene that encodes the ribosome-associated scaffold protein, LACK ( Leishmania ortholog of RACK1 [receptor for activated C kinase]). Targeted replacement of an endogenous LACK copy with a putative ribosome-binding motif-disrupted variant (LACK R34D35G36 →LACK D34D35E36 ) resulted in thermosensitive parasites that showed diminished LmCOX4 expression, mitochondrial fitness, and replication in macrophages. Surprisingly, despite these phenotypes, LACK D34D35E36 associated with monosomes and polysomes and showed no major impairment of global protein synthesis. Collectively, these data suggest thatmore »wild-type (WT) LACK orchestrates robust LmCOX4 expression and mitochondrial fitness to ensure parasite virulence, via optimized functional interactions with the ribosome. IMPORTANCE Leishmania parasites are trypanosomatid protozoans that persist in infected human hosts to cause a spectrum of pathologies, from cutaneous and mucocutaneous manifestations to visceral leishmaniasis caused by Leishmania donovani . The latter is usually fatal if not treated. Persistence of L. major in the mammalian host depends upon maintaining gene-regulatory programs to support essential parasite metabolic functions. These include expression and assembly of mitochondrial L. major cytochrome c oxidase (LmCOX) subunits, important for Leishmania ATP production. Significantly, under mammalian conditions, WT levels of LmCOX subunits require threshold levels of the Leishmania ribosome-associated scaffold protein, LACK. Unexpectedly, we find that although disruption of LACK’s putative ribosome-binding motif does not grossly perturb ribosome association or global protein synthesis, it nonetheless impairs COX subunit expression, mitochondrial function, and virulence. Our data indicate that the quality of LACK’s interaction with Leishmania ribosomes is critical for LmCOX subunit expression and parasite mitochondrial function in the mammalian host. Collectively, these findings validate LACK’s ribosomal interactions as a potential therapeutic target.« less
  3. Dunn, Anne K. ; Ruby, Edward G. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Gluconeogenic carbon metabolism is not well understood, especially within the context of flux partitioning between energy generation and biomass production, despite the importance of gluconeogenic carbon substrates in natural and engineered carbon processing. Here, using multiple omics approaches, we elucidate the metabolic mechanisms that facilitate gluconeogenic fast-growth phenotypes in Pseudomonas putida and Comamonas testosteroni , two Proteobacteria species with distinct metabolic networks. In contrast to the genetic constraint of C. testosteroni , which lacks the enzymes required for both sugar uptake and a complete oxidative pentose phosphate (PP) pathway, sugar metabolism in P. putida is known to generate surplus NADPH by relying on the oxidative PP pathway within its characteristic cyclic connection between the Entner-Doudoroff (ED) and Embden-Meyerhoff-Parnas (EMP) pathways. Remarkably, similar to the genome-based metabolic decoupling in C. testosteroni , our 13 C-fluxomics reveals an inactive oxidative PP pathway and disconnected EMP and ED pathways in P. putida during gluconeogenic feeding, thus requiring transhydrogenase reactions to supply NADPH for anabolism in both species by leveraging the high tricarboxylic acid cycle flux during gluconeogenic growth. Furthermore, metabolomics and proteomics analyses of both species during gluconeogenic feeding, relative to glycolytic feeding, demonstrate a 5-fold depletion in phosphorylated metabolites and themore »absence of or up to a 17-fold decrease in proteins of the PP and ED pathways. Such metabolic remodeling, which is reportedly lacking in Escherichia coli exhibiting a gluconeogenic slow-growth phenotype, may serve to minimize futile carbon cycling while favoring the gluconeogenic metabolic regime in relevant proteobacterial species. IMPORTANCE Glycolytic metabolism of sugars is extensively studied in the Proteobacteria , but gluconeogenic carbon sources (e.g., organic acids, amino acids, aromatics) that feed into the tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle are widely reported to produce a fast-growth phenotype, particularly in species with biotechnological relevance. Much remains unknown about the importance of glycolysis-associated pathways in the metabolism of gluconeogenic carbon substrates. Here, we demonstrate that two distinct proteobacterial species, through genetic constraints or metabolic regulation at specific metabolic nodes, bypass the oxidative PP pathway during gluconeogenic growth and avoid unnecessary carbon fluxes by depleting protein investment into connected glycolysis pathways. Both species can leverage instead the high TCA cycle flux during gluconeogenic feeding to meet NADPH demand. Importantly, lack of a complete oxidative pentose phosphate pathway is a widespread metabolic trait in Proteobacteria with a gluconeogenic carbon preference, thus highlighting the important relevance of our findings toward elucidating the metabolic architecture in these bacteria.« less
  4. Rod-shaped mycobacteria expand from their poles, yet d-amino acid probes label cell wall peptidoglycan in this genus at both the poles and sidewall. We sought to clarify the metabolic fates of these probes. Monopeptide incorporation was decreased by antibiotics that block peptidoglycan synthesis or l,d-transpeptidation and in an l,d-transpeptidase mutant. Dipeptides complemented defects in d-alanine synthesis or ligation and were present in lipid-linked peptidoglycan precursors. Characterizing probe uptake pathways allowed us to localize peptidoglycan metabolism with precision: monopeptide-marked l,d-transpeptidase remodeling and dipeptide-marked synthesis were coincident with mycomembrane metabolism at the poles, septum and sidewall. Fluorescent pencillin-marked d,d-transpeptidation around the cell perimeter further suggested that the mycobacterial sidewall is a site of cell wall assembly. While polar peptidoglycan synthesis was associated with cell elongation, sidewall synthesis responded to cell wall damage. Peptidoglycan editing along the sidewall may support cell wall robustness in pole-growing mycobacteria.
  5. Mycobacteria, including the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis , grow by inserting new cell wall material at their poles. This process and that of division are asymmetric, producing a phenotypically heterogeneous population of cells that respond non-uniformly to stress (Aldridge et al., 2012; Rego et al., 2017). Surprisingly, deletion of a single gene – lamA – leads to more symmetry, and to a population of cells that is more uniformly killed by antibiotics (Rego et al., 2017). How does LamA create asymmetry? Here, using a combination of quantitative time-lapse imaging, bacterial genetics, and lipid profiling, we find that LamA recruits essential proteins involved in cell wall synthesis to one side of the cell – the old pole. One of these proteins, MSMEG_0317, here renamed PgfA, was of unknown function. We show that PgfA is a periplasmic protein that interacts with MmpL3, an essential transporter that flips mycolic acids in the form of trehalose monomycolate (TMM), across the plasma membrane. PgfA interacts with a TMM analog suggesting a direct role in TMM transport. Yet our data point to a broader function as well, as cells with altered PgfA levels have differences in the abundance of other lipids and are differentially reliant onmore »those lipids for survival. Overexpression of PgfA, but not MmpL3, restores growth at the old poles in cells missing lamA . Together, our results suggest that PgfA is a key determinant of polar growth and cell envelope composition in mycobacteria, and that the LamA-mediated recruitment of this protein to one side of the cell is a required step in the establishment of cellular asymmetry.« less