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Title: The Azospirillum brasilense Core Chemotaxis Proteins CheA1 and CheA4 Link Chemotaxis Signaling with Nitrogen Metabolism
ABSTRACT Bacterial chemotaxis affords motile bacteria the ability to navigate the environment to locate niches for growth and survival. At the molecular level, chemotaxis depends on chemoreceptor signaling arrays that interact with cytoplasmic proteins to control the direction of movement. In Azospirillum brasilense , chemotaxis is mediated by two distinct chemotaxis pathways: Che1 and Che4. Both Che1 and Che4 are critical in the A. brasilense free-living and plant-associated lifestyles. Here, we use whole-cell proteomics and metabolomics to characterize the role of chemotaxis in A. brasilense physiology. We found that mutants lacking CheA1 or CheA4 or both are affected in nonchemotaxis functions, including major changes in transcription, signaling transport, and cell metabolism. We identify specific effects of CheA1 and CheA4 on nitrogen metabolism, including nitrate assimilation and nitrogen fixation, that may depend, at least, on the transcriptional control of rpoN , which encodes RpoN, a global regulator of metabolism, including nitrogen. Consistent with proteomics, the abundance of several nitrogenous compounds (purines, pyrimidines, and amino acids) changed in the metabolomes of the chemotaxis mutants relative to the parental strain. Further, we uncover novel, and yet uncharacterized, layers of transcriptional and posttranscriptional control of nitrogen metabolism regulators. Together, our data reveal roles for more » CheA1 and CheA4 in linking chemotaxis and nitrogen metabolism, likely through control of global regulatory networks. IMPORTANCE Bacterial chemotaxis is widespread in bacteria, increasing competitiveness in diverse environments and mediating associations with eukaryotic hosts ranging from commensal to beneficial and pathogenic. In most bacteria, chemotaxis signaling is tightly linked to energy metabolism, with this coupling occurring through the sensory input of several energy-sensing chemoreceptors. Here, we show that in A. brasilense the chemotaxis proteins have key roles in modulating nitrogen metabolism, including nitrate assimilation and nitrogen fixation, through novel and yet unknown regulations. These results are significant given that A. brasilense is a model bacterium for plant growth promotion and free-living nitrogen fixation and is used as a bio-inoculant for cereal crops. Chemotaxis signaling in A. brasilense thus links locomotor behaviors to nitrogen metabolism, allowing cells to continuously and reciprocally adjust metabolism and chemotaxis signaling as they navigate gradients. « less
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Petersen, Jillian Michelle
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National Science Foundation
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