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  1. Free, publicly-accessible full text available March 1, 2023
  2. Brun, Yves V. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Bacteria have a variety of mechanisms for adapting to environmental perturbations. Changes in oxygen availability result in a switch between aerobic and anaerobic respiration, whereas iron limitation may lead to siderophore secretion. In addition to metabolic adaptations, many organisms respond by altering their cell shape. Caulobacter crescentus , when grown under phosphate-limiting conditions, dramatically elongates its polar stalk appendage. The stalk is hypothesized to facilitate phosphate uptake; however, the mechanistic details of stalk synthesis are not well characterized. We used a chemical mutagenesis approach to isolate and characterize stalk-deficient mutants, one of which had two mutations in the phosphomannose isomerase gene ( manA ) that were necessary and sufficient to inhibit stalk elongation. Transcription of the pho regulon was unaffected in the manA mutant; therefore, ManA plays a unique regulatory role in stalk synthesis. The mutant ManA had reduced enzymatic activity, resulting in a 5-fold increase in the intracellular fructose 6-phosphate/mannose 6-phosphate ratio. This metabolic imbalance impaired the synthesis of cellular envelope components derived from mannose 6-phosphate, namely, lipopolysaccharide O-antigen and exopolysaccharide. Furthermore, the manA mutations prevented C. crescentus cells from efficiently entering stationary phase. Deletion of the stationary-phase response regulator gene spdR inhibited stalk elongation in wild-type cells,more »while overproduction of the alarmone ppGpp, which triggers growth arrest and stationary-phase entry, increased stalk length in the manA mutant strain. These results demonstrate that sugar-phosphate metabolism regulates stalk elongation independently of phosphate starvation. IMPORTANCE Metabolic control of bacterial cell shape is an important mechanism for adapting to environmental perturbations. Caulobacter crescentus dramatically elongates its polar stalk appendage in response to phosphate starvation. To investigate the mechanism of this morphological adaptation, we isolated stalk-deficient mutants, one of which had mutations in the phosphomannose isomerase gene ( manA ) that blocked stalk elongation, despite normal activation of the phosphate starvation response. The mutant ManA resulted in an imbalance in sugar-phosphate concentrations, which had effects on the synthesis of cellular envelope components and entry into stationary phase. Due to the interconnectivity of metabolic pathways, our findings may suggest more generally that the modulation of bacterial cell shape involves the regulation of growth phase and the synthesis of cellular building blocks.« less
  3. Shuman, Howard A. (Ed.)
    ABSTRACT Caulobacter crescentus adapts to phosphate starvation by elongating its cell body and a polar stalk structure. The stalk is an extension of the Gram-negative envelope containing inner and outer membranes as well as a peptidoglycan cell wall. Cellular elongation requires a 6- to 7-fold increase in membrane synthesis, yet phosphate limitation would preclude the incorporation of additional phospholipids. In the place of phospholipids, C. crescentus can synthesize several glycolipid species, including a novel glycosphingolipid (GSL-2). While glycosphingolipids are ubiquitous in eukaryotes, the presence of GSL-2 in C. crescentus is surprising since GSLs had previously been found only in Sphingomonas species, in which they play a role in outer membrane integrity. In this paper, we identify three proteins required for GSL-2 synthesis: CcbF catalyzes the first step in ceramide synthesis, while Sgt1 and Sgt2 sequentially glycosylate ceramides to produce GSL-2. Unlike in Sphingomonas , GSLs are nonessential in C. crescentus ; however, the presence of ceramides does contribute to phage resistance and susceptibility to the cationic antimicrobial peptide polymyxin B. The identification of a novel lipid species specifically produced upon phosphate starvation suggests that bacteria may be able to synthesize a wider variety of lipids in response to stresses thanmore »previously observed. Uncovering these lipids and their functional relevance will provide greater insight into microbial physiology and environmental adaptation. IMPORTANCE Bacteria adapt to environmental changes in a variety of ways, including altering their cell shape. Caulobacter crescentus adapts to phosphate starvation by elongating its cell body and a polar stalk structure containing both inner and outer membranes. While we generally think of cellular membranes being composed largely of phospholipids, cellular elongation occurs when environmental phosphate, and therefore phospholipid synthesis, is limited. In order to adapt to these environmental constraints, C. crescentus synthesizes several glycolipid species, including a novel glycosphingolipid. This finding is significant because glycosphingolipids, while ubiquitous in eukaryotes, are extremely rare in bacteria. In this paper, we identify three proteins required for GSL-2 synthesis and demonstrate that they contribute to phage resistance. These findings suggest that bacteria may synthesize a wider variety of lipids in response to stresses than previously observed.« less