The second messenger, bis-(3′,5′)-cyclic dimeric guanosine monophosphate (cyclic di-GMP), is involved in the control of multiple bacterial phenotypes, including those that impact host–pathogen interactions. Bioinformatics analyses predicted that Mycobacterium leprae, an obligate intracellular bacterium and the causative agent of leprosy, encodes three active diguanylate cyclases. In contrast, the related pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis encodes only a single diguanylate cyclase. One of the M. leprae unique diguanylate cyclases (ML1419c) was previously shown to be produced early during the course of leprosy. Thus, functional analysis of ML1419c was performed. The gene encoding ML1419c was cloned and expressed in Pseudomonas aeruginosa PAO1 to allow for assessment of cyclic di-GMP production and cyclic di-GMP-mediated phenotypes. Phenotypic studies revealed that ml1419c expression altered colony morphology, motility and biofilm formation of P. aeruginosa PAO1 in a manner consistent with increased cyclic di-GMP production. Direct measurement of cyclic di-GMP levels by liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry confirmed that ml1419c expression increased cyclic di-GMP production in P. aeruginosa PAO1 cultures in comparison to the vector control. The observed phenotypes and increased levels of cyclic di-GMP detected in P. aeruginosa expressing ml1419c could be abrogated by mutation of the active site in ML1419c. These studies demonstrated that ML1419c of M. leprae functions as diguanylate cyclase to synthesize cyclic di-GMP. Thus, this protein was renamed DgcA (Diguanylate cyclase A). These results also demonstrated the ability to use P. aeruginosa as a heterologous host for characterizing the function of proteins involved in the cyclic di-GMP pathway of a pathogen refractory to in vitro growth, M. leprae.
Bacteriocins represent a rather underutilized class of antimicrobials despite often displaying activity against many drug-resistant pathogens. Lantibiotics are a post-translationally modified class of bacteriocins, characterized by the presence of lanthionine and methyllanthionine bridges. In this study, a novel two-peptide lantibiotic was isolated and characterized. Formicin was isolated from Bacillus paralicheniformis APC 1576, an antimicrobial-producing strain originally isolated from the intestine of a mackerel. Genome sequencing allowed for the detection of the formicin operon and, from this, the formicin structural genes were identified, along with those involved in lantibiotic modification, transport and immunity. The identified bacteriocin was subsequently purified from the bacterial supernatant. Despite the degree of conservation seen amongst the entire class of two-peptide lantibiotics, the formicin peptides are unique in many respects. The formicin α peptide is far less hydrophobic than any of the equivalent lantibiotics, and with a charge of plus two, it is one of the most positively charged α peptides. The β peptide is unique in that it is the only such peptide with a negative charge due to the presence of an aspartic acid residue in the C-terminus, possibly indicating a slight variation to the mode of action of the bacteriocin. Formicin also displays a broad spectrum of inhibition against Gram-positive strains, inhibiting many clinically relevant pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium difficile and Listeria monocytogenes. The range of inhibition displayed against many important pathogens indicates a potential therapeutic use against such strains where antibiotic resistance is such a growing concern.
Transhydrogenases catalyse interconversion of the redox cofactors NADH and NADPH, thereby conveying metabolic flexibility to balance catabolic NADPH formation with anabolic or stress-based consumption of NADPH. Escherichia coli is one of the very few microbes that possesses two isoforms: the membrane-bound, proton-translocating transhydrogenase PntAB and the cytosolic, energy-independent transhydrogenase UdhA. Despite their physiological relevance, we have only fragmented information on their regulation and the signals coordinating their counteracting activities. Here we investigated PntAB and UdhA regulation by studying transcriptional responses to environmental and genetic perturbations. By testing pntAB and udhA GFP reporter constructs in the background of WT E. coli and 62 transcription factor mutants during growth on different carbon sources, we show distinct transcriptional regulation of the two transhydrogenase promoters. Surprisingly, transhydrogenase regulation was independent of the actual catabolic overproduction or underproduction of NADPH but responded to nutrient levels and growth rate in a fashion that matches the cellular need for the redox cofactors NADPH and/or NADH. Specifically, the identified transcription factors Lrp, ArgP and Crp link transhydrogenase expression to particular amino acids and intracellular concentrations of cAMP. The overall identified set of regulators establishes a primarily biosynthetic role for PntAB and link UdhA to respiration.
Bacterial inactivation by 405 nm light is accredited to the photoexcitation of intracellular porphyrin molecules resulting in energy transfer and the generation of reactive oxygen species that impart cellular oxidative damage. The specific mechanism of cellular damage, however, is not fully understood. Previous work has suggested that destruction of nucleic acids may be responsible for inactivation; however, microscopic imaging has suggested membrane damage as a major constituent of cellular inactivation. This study investigates the membrane integrity of Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus exposed to 405 nm light. Results indicated membrane damage to both species, with loss of salt and bile tolerance by S. aureus and E. coli, respectively, consistent with reduced membrane integrity. Increased nucleic acid release was also demonstrated in 405 nm light-exposed cells, with up to 50 % increase in DNA concentration into the extracellular media in the case of both organisms. SYTOX green fluorometric analysis, however, demonstrated contradictory results between the two test species. With E. coli, increasing permeation of SYTOX green was observed following increased exposure, with >500 % increase in fluorescence, whereas no increase was observed with S. aureus. Overall, this study has provided good evidence that 405 nm light exposure causes loss of bacterial membrane integrity in E. coli, but the results with S. aureus are more difficult to explain. Further work is required to gain greater understanding of the inactivation mechanism in different bacterial species, as there are likely to be other targets within the cell that are also impaired by the oxidative damage from photo-generated reactive oxygen species.
The saprophytic actinobacterium Streptomyces coelicolor A3(2) requires oxygen for filamentous growth. Surprisingly, the bacterium also synthesizes three active respiratory nitrate reductases (Nar), which are believed to contribute to survival, or general fitness, of the bacterium in soil when oxygen becomes limiting. In this study, we analysed Nar3 and showed that activity of the enzyme is restricted to stationary-phase mycelium of S. coelicolor. Phosphate limitation was shown to be necessary for induction of enzyme synthesis. Nar3 synthesis was inhibited by inclusion of 20 mM phosphate in a defined ‘switch assay’ in which highly dispersed mycelium from exponentially growing cultures was shifted to neutral MOPS-glucose buffer to induce Nar3 synthesis and activity. Quantitative assessment of nar3 transcripts revealed a 30-fold induction of gene expression in stationary-phase mycelium. Transcript levels in stationary-phase mycelium incubated with phosphate were reduced by a little more than twofold, suggesting that the negative influence of phosphate on Nar3 synthesis was mainly at the post-transcriptional level. Furthermore, it was demonstrated that oxygen limitation was necessary to induce high levels of Nar3 activity. However, an abrupt shift from aerobic to anaerobic conditions prevented appearance of Nar3 activity. This suggests that the bacterium regulates Nar3 synthesis in response to the energy status of the mycelium. Nitrate had little impact on regulation of the Nar3 level. Together, these data identify Nar3 as a stationary-phase nitrate reductase in S. coelicolor and demonstrate that enzyme synthesis is induced in response to both phosphate limitation and hypoxia.