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1.  Analysis of cis- and trans-Acting Factors Involved in Regulation of the Streptococcus mutans Fructanase Gene (fruA) 
Journal of Bacteriology  2002;184(1):126-133.
There are two primary levels of control of the expression of the fructanase gene (fruA) of Streptococcus mutans: induction by levan, inulin, or sucrose and repression in the presence of glucose and other readily metabolized sugars. The goals of this study were to assess the functionality of putative cis-acting regulatory elements and to begin to identify the trans-acting factors involved in induction and catabolite repression of fruA. The fruA promoter and its derivatives generated by deletions and/or site-directed mutagenesis were fused to a promoterless chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) gene as a reporter, and strains carrying the transcriptional fusions were then analyzed for CAT activities in response to growth on various carbon sources. A dyadic sequence, ATGACA(TC)TGTCAT, located at −72 to −59 relative to the transcription initiation site was shown to be essential for expression of fruA. Inactivation of the genes that encode fructose-specific enzymes II resulted in elevated expression from the fruA promoter, suggesting negative regulation of fruA expression by the fructose phosphotransferase system. Mutagenesis of a terminator-like structure located in the 165-base 5′ untranslated region of the fruA mRNA or insertional inactivation of antiterminator genes revealed that antitermination was not a mechanism controlling induction or repression of fruA, although the untranslated leader mRNA may play a role in optimal expression of fructanase. Deletion or mutation of a consensus catabolite response element alleviated glucose repression of fruA, but interestingly, inactivation of the ccpA gene had no discernible effect on catabolite repression of fruA. Accumulating data suggest that expression of fruA is regulated by a mechanism that has several unique features that distinguish it from archetypical polysaccharide catabolic operons of other gram-positive bacteria.
PMCID: PMC134753  PMID: 11741852
2.  Expression, purification, and characterization of an exo-beta-D-fructosidase of Streptococcus mutans. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1987;169(10):4507-4517.
A genetic library of Streptococcus mutans GS-5, constructed in an Escherichia coli plasmid vector, was screened for cells which could utilize sucrose as the sole carbon and energy source. The recombinant plasmid pFRU1, containing a 4.2-kilobase pair insert of S. mutans DNA, was shown to confer this phenotype. Further characterization of the gene product encoded by pFRU1 revealed that the enzyme was a beta-D-fructosidase with the highest specificity for the beta (2----6)-linked fructan polymer levan. The enzyme could also hydrolyze inulin [beta (2----1)-linked fructan], sucrose, and raffinose with 34, 21, and 12%, respectively, of the activity observed for levan. The gene (designated fruA) appeared to be expressed under its own control in E. coli, as judged by the lack of influence on gene product activity of induction or repression of the beta-galactosidase promoter adjacent to the insertion site on the cloning vector. The protein was purified to homogeneity, as judged by silver staining of purified protein in denaturing and reducing conditions in polyacrylamide gels, from sonic lysate of E. coli, as well as from culture supernatants of S. mutans GS-5 grown in a chemostat at low dilution rate with fructose as the sole carbohydrate source. Both purified proteins had an apparent molecular mass of 140,000 daltons in sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis, were immunologically related and comigrated in sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis as determined by Western blotting with antisera raised against the cloned gene product, and were identical in all physical and biochemical properties tested. The pH optimum of the enzyme acting on fructan polymers was 5.5, with a significant amount of activity remaining at pH 4.0. The optimum pH for sucrose degradation was broader and lower, with a peak at approximately 4.5. Enzyme activity was inhibited almost completely by Hg2+ and Ag2+, inhibited partially by Cu2+, not inhibited by fluoride ion or Tris, and slightly stimulated by Mn2+ and Co2+. Fructan polymers were attacked exohydrolytically by the enzyme, fructose being the only product released. With sufficient time, both levan and inulin were degraded to completion, with no evidence of product inhibition.
PMCID: PMC213815  PMID: 3308844
3.  Molecular characterization of a fructanase produced by Bacteroides fragilis BF-1. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1993;175(10):3058-3066.
The Bacteroides fragilis BF-1 fructanase-encoding gene (fruA) was cloned and expressed in Escherichia coli from the recombinant plasmid pBS100. The fruA gene consisted of 1,866 bp encoding a protein of 622 amino acids with a calculated M(r) of 70,286. The apparent M(r) of the fructanase, determined by in vitro cell-free transcription-translation and sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis, was approximately 71,500. An alignment of the amino acid sequences of the B. fragilis BF-1 fructanase and the Bacillus subtilis levanase revealed that 45.5% of the amino acids were identical. The fruA gene was expressed in E. coli from its own promoter; however, no E. coli promoter-like sequence was evident upstream from the gene. A major E. coli transcription start point and a single B. fragilis BF-1 transcription start point were located. Expression of the fruA gene was constitutive in E. coli(pBS100) and B. fragilis BF-1. The ratio of sucrase activity to inulinase activity (S/I ratio) was constant for enzyme preparations from E. coli (pBS100), indicating that both activities were associated with the fructanase. For B. fragilis BF-1, the S/I ratio varied considerably depending on the carbon source used for growth, suggesting that a separate sucrase is produced in addition to the fructanase in B. fragilis BF-1. Localization experiments and TnphoA mutagenesis indicated that the fructanase was exported to the periplasm. Sequence analysis of the N-terminal region of the fructanase revealed a putative 30-amino-acid signal peptide. The enzymatic properties of the purified fructanase were investigated. The enzyme was able to hydrolyze sucrose, raffinose, inulin, and levan but not melezitose, indicating that it was a beta-D-fructofuranosidase which was able to hydrolyze beta(2-->6)-linked fructans.
PMCID: PMC204626  PMID: 8491724
4.  Characterization of the Streptococcus mutans GS-5 fruA gene encoding exo-beta-D-fructosidase. 
Infection and Immunity  1992;60(11):4621-4632.
The complete nucleotide sequence (5,010 bp) of the fructanase gene (fruA) and flanking regions of the chromosome of Streptococcus mutans GS-5 was determined. The fruA gene appears to be the sole transcript arising from a proximal promoter. The presumed precursor of the secreted FruA protein consists of 1,423 amino acids, and it has an M(r) of 158,656 and a pI of 4.82. The N terminus of FruA has characteristics in common with signal peptides of gram-positive organisms. The C terminus consists of a serine- and threonine-rich region, followed by the peptide LPDTGD, 4 charged amino acids, 21 amino acids with a strongly hydrophobic character, and a charged pentapeptide tail, which are proposed to correspond to the wall-spanning region, the LPXTGX consensus sequence, and the membrane-spanning domains of surface-associated proteins of gram-positive cocci. The FruA protein has significant homology with the Bacillus subtilis levanase (SacC), the Bacteroides fragilis levanase (ScrL), yeast invertases, and a number of other beta-fructosidases but not with fructosyltransferase, glucosyltransferases, or glucan-binding proteins of oral streptococci. Genes with homology to fruA were detected in S. mutans serotype c, e, and f strains, Streptococcus rattus, Streptococcus salivarius, and Streptococcus sanguis. A deletion derivative of FruA lacking the C-terminal 437 amino acids was still functional and could hydrolyze beta-(2,6)- and beta-(2,1)-linked sugars, but with altered preference for substrates. The data begin to define functional domains of the FruA protein and potential regulatory sites for induction, repression, growth rate control, and posttranslational localization of this multifunctional enzyme.
PMCID: PMC258211  PMID: 1398976
5.  The EIIABMan Phosphotransferase System Permease Regulates Carbohydrate Catabolite Repression in Streptococcus gordonii▿ †  
Commensal oral streptococci play critical roles in oral biofilm formation and promote dental health by competing with, and antagonizing the growth of, pathogenic organisms, such as Streptococcus mutans. Efficient utilization of the spectrum of carbohydrates in the oral cavity by commensal streptococci is essential for their persistence, and yet very little is known about the regulation of carbohydrate catabolism by these organisms. Carbohydrate catabolite repression (CCR) in the abundant oral commensal Streptococcus gordonii strain DL-1 was investigated using the exo-β-d-fructosidase gene (fruA) and a fructose/mannose sugar:phosphotransferase (PTS) enzyme II operon (levDEFG) as model systems. Functional studies confirmed the predicted roles of FruA and LevD in S. gordonii. ManL, the AB domain of a fructose/mannose-type enzyme II PTS permease, contributed to utilization of glucose, mannose, galactose, and fructose and exerted primary control over CCR of the fruA and levD operons. Unlike in S. mutans, ManL-dependent CCR was not sugar specific, and galactose was very effective at eliciting CCR in S. gordonii. Inactivation of the apparent ccpA homologue of S. gordonii actually enhanced CCR of fruA and levD, an effect likely due to its demonstrated role in repression of manL expression. Thus, there are some similarities and fundamental differences in CCR control mechanisms between the oral pathogen S. mutans and the oral commensal S. gordonii that may eventually be exploited to enhance the competitiveness of health-associated commensals in oral biofilms.
PMCID: PMC3067331  PMID: 21239541
6.  Characteristics and cariogenicity of a fructanase-defective Streptococcus mutants strain. 
Infection and Immunity  1992;60(9):3673-3681.
Polymers of D-fructose produced by a variety of oral bacteria are believed to function as extracellular carbohydrate reserves. Degradation of these polysaccharides in plaque following exhaustion of dietary carbohydrates is thought to contribute to the extent and duration of the acid challenge to the tooth surface and thus to the initiation and progression of dental caries. Streptococcus mutans produces a fructanase, the product of the fruA gene, which is capable of degrading beta(2,6)- and beta(2,1)-linked fructans that are commonly synthesized by dental plaque microorganisms. To evaluate the role of the FruA protein in exopolysaccharide metabolism and to assess the contribution of this enzyme to the pathogenic potential of S. mutans, a fructanase-deficient strain of S. mutans was constructed. Inactivation of a cloned fruA gene was accomplished in Escherichia coli by using a mini-Mu dE transposon, and then an isogenic mutant of S. mutans UA159 was constructed by allelic exchange. Successful inactivation of fruA was confirmed through the use of biochemical assays, Western blotting (immunoblotting) with anti-recombinant FruA antisera, and Southern hybridization. The data indicated that FruA was the only fructan hydrolase produced by S. mutans UA159. Inactivation of fruA had no significant effects on glucosyltransferase or fructosyltransferase activity. In the rat caries model using animals fed a high-sucrose diet and ad libitum, there were no significant differences in the number or severity of smooth surface, sulcal, or root caries elicited by the fruA mutant and the wild-type organism.
PMCID: PMC257376  PMID: 1500176
7.  Genetic analysis of fructan-hyperproducing strains of Streptococcus mutans. 
Infection and Immunity  1994;62(7):2679-2686.
Fructan polymer, synthesized from sucrose by the extracellular fructosyltransferase of Streptococcus mutans, is thought to contribute to the progression of dental caries. It may serve as an extracellular storage polysaccharide facilitating survival and acid production. It may also have a role in adherence or accumulation of bacterial cells on the tooth surface. A number of clinical isolates of S. mutans which produce large, mucoid colonies on sucrose-containing agar as a result of increased production of fructan have been discovered. By using eight independent isolates, we sought to determine if such fructan-hyperproducing strains represented a genetically homogeneous group of organisms. Restriction fragment patterns of total cellular DNA were examined by using pulsed-field and conventional gel electrophoresis. Four genetic types which appeared to correlate with the serotype of the organism and the geographic site of isolation were evident. Southern blot analysis of several genetic loci for extracellular enzymes revealed some minor differences between the strains, but the basic genomic organizations of these loci were similar. To evaluate whether the excess fructan produced by these strains enhanced the virulence of these organisms in the oral cavity, it was of interest to create mutants deficient in fructosidase (FruA), the extracellular enzyme which degrades this polymer. The fruA gene was inactivated by allelic exchange in two fructan-hyperproducing strains as well as in S. mutans GS5, a strain which does not hyperproduce fructan. All of the fruA mutant strains were devoid of fructan hydrolase activity when levan was used as a substrate. However, the fructan-hyperproducing strains retained the ability to hydrolyze inulin, suggesting the presence of a second fructosidase with specificity for inulin in these strains.
PMCID: PMC302868  PMID: 7911782
8.  Involvement of an Inducible Fructose Phosphotransferase Operon in Streptococcus gordonii Biofilm Formation 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(21):6241-6254.
Oral streptococci, such as Streptococcus gordonii, are the predominant early colonizers that initiate biofilm formation on tooth surfaces. Investigation of an S. gordonii::Tn917-lac biofilm-defective mutant isolated by using an in vitro biofilm formation assay showed that the transposon insertion is near the 3′ end of an open reading frame (ORF) encoding a protein homologous to Streptococcus mutans FruK. Three genes, fruR, fruK, and fruI, were predicted to encode polypeptides that are part of the fructose phosphotransferase system (PTS) in S. gordonii. These proteins, FruR, FruK, and FruI, are homologous to proteins encoded by the inducible fruRKI operon of S. mutans. In S. mutans, FruR is a transcriptional repressor, FruK is a fructose-1-phosphate kinase, and FruI is the fructose-specific enzyme II (fructose permease) of the phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent sugar PTS. Reverse transcription-PCR confirmed that fruR, fruK, and fruI are cotranscribed as an operon in S. gordonii, and the transposon insertion in S. gordonii fruK::Tn917-lac resulted in a nonpolar mutation. Nonpolar inactivation of either fruK or fruI generated by allelic replacement resulted in a biofilm-defective phenotype, whereas a nonpolar mutant with an inactivated fruR gene retained the ability to form a biofilm. Expression of fruK, as measured by the β-galactosidase activity of the fruK::Tn917-lac mutant, was observed to be growth phase dependent and was enhanced when the mutant was grown in media with high levels of fructose, sucrose, xylitol, and human serum, indicating that the fructose PTS operon was fructose and xylitol inducible, similar to the S. mutans fructose PTS. The induction by fructose was inhibited by the presence of glucose, indicating that glucose is able to catabolite repress fruK expression. Nonpolar inactivation of the fruR gene in the fruK::Tn917-lac mutant resulted in a greater increase in β-galactosidase activity when the organism was grown in media supplemented with fructose, confirming that fruR is a transcriptional repressor of the fructose PTS operon. These results suggest that the regulation of fructose transport and metabolism in S. gordonii is intricately tied to carbon catabolite control and the ability to form biofilms. Carbon catabolite control, which modulates carbon flux in response to environmental nutritional levels, appears to be important in the regulation of bacterial biofilms.
PMCID: PMC219402  PMID: 14563858
9.  Combinatorial Regulation by a Novel Arrangement of FruA and MrpC2 Transcription Factors during Myxococcus xanthus Development▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2009;191(8):2753-2763.
Myxococcus xanthus is a gram-negative soil bacterium that undergoes multicellular development upon nutrient limitation. Intercellular signals control cell movements and regulate gene expression during the developmental process. C-signal is a short-range signal essential for aggregation and sporulation. C-signaling regulates the fmgA gene by a novel mechanism involving cooperative binding of the response regulator FruA and the transcription factor/antitoxin MrpC2. Here, we demonstrate that regulation of the C-signal-dependent fmgBC operon is under similar combinatorial control by FruA and MrpC2, but the arrangement of binding sites is different than in the fmgA promoter region. MrpC2 was shown to bind to a crucial cis-regulatory sequence in the fmgBC promoter region. FruA was required for MrpC and/or MrpC2 to associate with the fmgBC promoter region in vivo, and expression of an fmgB-lacZ fusion was abolished in a fruA mutant. Recombinant FruA was shown to bind to an essential regulatory sequence located slightly downstream of the MrpC2-binding site in the fmgBC promoter region. Full-length FruA, but not its C-terminal DNA-binding domain, enhanced the formation of complexes with fmgBC promoter region DNA, when combined with MrpC2. This effect was nearly abolished with fmgBC DNA fragments having a mutation in either the MrpC2- or FruA-binding site, indicating that binding of both proteins to DNA is important for enhancement of complex formation. These results are similar to those observed for fmgA, where FruA and MrpC2 bind cooperatively upstream of the promoter, except that in the fmgA promoter region the FruA-binding site is located slightly upstream of the MrpC2-binding site. Cooperative binding of FruA and MrpC2 appears to be a conserved mechanism of gene regulation that allows a flexible arrangement of binding sites and coordinates multiple signaling pathways.
PMCID: PMC2668394  PMID: 19201804
10.  Inhibition of Streptococcus mutans Biofilm Formation by Streptococcus salivarius FruA▿  
The oral microbial flora consists of many beneficial species of bacteria that are associated with a healthy condition and control the progression of oral disease. Cooperative interactions between oral streptococci and the pathogens play important roles in the development of dental biofilms in the oral cavity. To determine the roles of oral streptococci in multispecies biofilm development and the effects of the streptococci in biofilm formation, the active substances inhibiting Streptococcus mutans biofilm formation were purified from Streptococcus salivarius ATCC 9759 and HT9R culture supernatants using ion exchange and gel filtration chromatography. Matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization-time of flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry analysis was performed, and the results were compared to databases. The S. salivarius HT9R genome sequence was determined and used to indentify candidate proteins for inhibition. The candidates inhibiting biofilms were identified as S. salivarius fructosyltransferase (FTF) and exo-beta-d-fructosidase (FruA). The activity of the inhibitors was elevated in the presence of sucrose, and the inhibitory effects were dependent on the sucrose concentration in the biofilm formation assay medium. Purified and commercial FruA from Aspergillus niger (31.6% identity and 59.6% similarity to the amino acid sequence of FruA from S. salivarius HT9R) completely inhibited S. mutans GS-5 biofilm formation on saliva-coated polystyrene and hydroxyapatite surfaces. Inhibition was induced by decreasing polysaccharide production, which is dependent on sucrose digestion rather than fructan digestion. The data indicate that S. salivarius produces large quantities of FruA and that FruA alone may play an important role in multispecies microbial interactions for sucrose-dependent biofilm formation in the oral cavity.
PMCID: PMC3067281  PMID: 21239559
Molecular microbiology  2008;70(1):197-208.
Streptococcus mutans is particularly well-adapted for high-affinity, high-capacity catabolism of multiple carbohydrate sources. S. mutans EIILev, a fructose/mannose permease encoded by the levDEFG genes, and fruA, which encodes a hydrolase that releases fructose from fructan polymers, are transcriptionally regulated by the LevQRST four-component signal transduction system. Here, we demonstrate that (1) levDEFGX are co-transcribed and the levE/F intergenic region is required for optimal expression of levFGX; (2) D-mannose is a potent inducer of the levD and fruA operons; (3) CcpA regulates levD expression in a carbohydrate-specific manner; (4) deletion of the genes for the fructose/mannose-EII enzymes of S. mutans (manL, fruI, and levD) enhances levD expression; (5) repression of the LevQRST regulon by EII enzymes depends on the presence of their substrates and requires LevR, but not LevQST; and (6) CcpA inhibits expression of the manL and frul genes to indirectly control the LevQRST regulon. Further, the manL, ccpA, frul/fruCD and levD gene products differentially exert control over the cellobiose and lactose operons. Collectively, the results reveal the existence of a global regulatory network in S. mutans that governs the utilization of non-preferred carbohydrates in response to the availability and source of multiple preferred carbohydrates.
PMCID: PMC2583961  PMID: 18699864
Sugar:phosphotransferase system; β-D-fructosidase; Catabolite repression; CcpA; Gene regulation
12.  CcpA Regulates Central Metabolism and Virulence Gene Expression in Streptococcus mutans▿ †  
Journal of Bacteriology  2008;190(7):2340-2349.
CcpA globally regulates transcription in response to carbohydrate availability in many gram-positive bacteria, but its role in Streptococcus mutans remains enigmatic. Using the fructan hydrolase (fruA) gene of S. mutans as a model, we demonstrated that CcpA plays a direct role in carbon catabolite repression (CCR). Subsequently, the expression of 170 genes was shown to be differently expressed (≥2-fold) in glucose-grown wild-type (UA159) and CcpA-deficient (TW1) strains (P ≤ 0.001). However, there were differences in expression of only 96 genes between UA159 and TW1 when cells were cultivated with the poorly repressing substrate galactose. Interestingly, 90 genes were expressed differently in wild-type S. mutans when glucose- and galactose-grown cells were compared, but the expression of 515 genes was altered in the CcpA-deficient strain in a similar comparison. Overall, our results supported the hypothesis that CcpA has a major role in CCR and regulation of gene expression but revealed that in S. mutans there is a substantial CcpA-independent network that regulates gene expression in response to the carbohydrate source. Based on the genetic studies, biochemical and physiological experiments demonstrated that loss of CcpA impacts the ability of S. mutans to transport and grow on selected sugars. Also, the CcpA-deficient strain displayed an enhanced capacity to produce acid from intracellular stores of polysaccharides, could grow faster at pH 5.5, and could acidify the environment more rapidly and to a greater extent than the parental strain. Thus, CcpA directly modulates the pathogenic potential of S. mutans through global control of gene expression.
PMCID: PMC2293215  PMID: 18223086
13.  Seryl-phosphorylated HPr Regulates CcpA-Independent Carbon Catabolite Repression in Conjunction with PTS Permeases in Streptococcus mutans 
Molecular microbiology  2010;75(5):1145-1158.
Carbohydrate catabolite repression (CCR) in Streptococcus mutans does not require CcpA and is exerted through a network of phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent sugar:phosphotransferase system (PTS) permeases. To probe the molecular mechanisms of CCR in S. mutans, the effects of various ptsH (HPr) and hprK (HPr kinase/phosphatase) mutations on growth and CCR were evaluated. An hprKV265F mutation, which enhanced phosphorylation of HPr at Ser46, inhibited growth on multiple PTS sugars. A ptsHS46A mutation reversed the effects of hprKV265F in most cases. A strain carrying a ptsHS46D mutation, which mimics HPr(Ser-P), presented with more severe growth defects than the hprKV265F mutant. The hprKV265F mutant displayed reduced expression of the fruA and levD operons, a phenotype reversible by the introduction of the ptsHS46A mutation. The effects of the hprKV265F mutation on fruA and levD expression were independent of CcpA, but dependent on ManL (IIABMan) and, to a lesser extent, on the FruI (IIABCFru), in a sugar-specific manner. The hprKV265F mutation inhibited growth on cellobiose and lactose, but only the transcription of the cel operon was decreased. Thus, in S. mutans, serine-phosphorylated HPr functions in concert with particular PTS permeases to prioritize carbohydrate utilization through modulation of sugar transport activity and the transcription of catabolic operons.
PMCID: PMC2927710  PMID: 20487301
Catabolite repression; HPr; Carbohydrate transport; Biofilm; Virulence
14.  Different Roles of EIIABMan and EIIGlc in Regulation of Energy Metabolism, Biofilm Development, and Competence in Streptococcus mutans 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(11):3748-3756.
The phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS) is the major carbohydrate transport system in oral streptococci. The mannose-PTS of Streptococcus mutans, which transports mannose and glucose, is involved in carbon catabolite repression (CCR) and regulates the expression of known virulence genes. In this study, we investigated the role of EIIGlc and EIIABMan in sugar metabolism, gene regulation, biofilm formation, and competence. The results demonstrate that the inactivation of ptsG, encoding a putative EIIGlc, did not lead to major changes in sugar metabolism or affect the phenotypes of interest. However, the loss of EIIGlc was shown to have a significant impact on the proteome and to affect the expression of a known virulence factor, fructan hydrolase (fruA). JAM1, a mutant strain lacking EIIABMan, had an impaired capacity to form biofilms in the presence of glucose and displayed a decreased ability to be transformed with exogenous DNA. Also, the lactose- and cellobiose-PTSs were positively and negatively regulated by EIIABMan, respectively. Microarrays were used to investigate the profound phenotypic changes displayed by JAM1, revealing that EIIABMan of S. mutans has a key regulatory role in energy metabolism, possibly by sensing the energy levels of the cells or the carbohydrate availability and, in response, regulating the activity of transcription factors and carbohydrate transporters.
PMCID: PMC1482907  PMID: 16707667
15.  Combinatorial Regulation of fmgD by MrpC2 and FruA during Myxococcus xanthus Development▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(7):1681-1689.
Upon starvation, a dense population of rod-shaped Myxococcus xanthus bacteria coordinate their movements to construct mounds in which some of the cells differentiate to spherical spores. During this process of fruiting body formation, short-range C-signaling between cells regulates their movements and the expression of genes important for sporulation. C-signaling activates FruA, a transcription factor that binds cooperatively with another transcription factor, MrpC2, upstream of the fmgA and fmgBC promoters, activating transcription. We have found that a third C-signal-dependent gene, herein named fmgD, is subject to combinatorial control by FruA and MrpC2. The two proteins appear to bind cooperatively upstream of the fmgD promoter and activate transcription. FruA binds proximal to the fmgD promoter, as in the fmgBC promoter region, whereas MrpC2 binds proximal to the fmgA promoter. A novel feature of the fmgD promoter region is the presence of a second MrpC2 binding site partially overlapping the promoter and therefore likely to mediate repression. The downstream MrpC2 site appears to overlap the FruA site, so the two transcription factors may compete for binding, which in both cases appears to be cooperative with MrpC2 at the upstream site. We propose that binding of MrpC2 to the downstream site represses fmgD transcription until C-signaling causes the concentration of active FruA to increase sufficiently to outcompete the downstream MrpC2 for cooperative binding with the upstream MrpC2. This would explain why fmgD transcription begins later during development and is more dependent on C-signaling than transcription of fmgA and fmgBC.
PMCID: PMC3067673  PMID: 21257775
16.  Combinatorial Regulation by MrpC2 and FruA Involves Three Sites in the fmgE Promoter Region during Myxococcus xanthus Development▿ 
Journal of Bacteriology  2011;193(11):2756-2766.
Starvation causes cells in a dense population of Myxococcus xanthus to change their gliding movements and construct mounds. Short-range C-signaling between rod-shaped cells within mounds induces gene expression that promotes differentiation into spherical spores. Several C-signal-dependent genes have been shown to be regulated by cooperative binding of two transcription factors to the promoter region. These FruA- and MrpC2-regulated genes (designated fmg) each exhibit a different arrangement of binding sites. Here, we describe fmgE, which appears to be regulated by three sites for cooperative binding of FruA and MrpC2. Chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis showed that association of MrpC2 and/or its longer form, MrpC with the fmgE promoter region, depends on FruA, consistent with cooperative binding of the two proteins in vivo. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays with purified His10-MrpC2 and FruA-His6 indicated cooperative binding in vitro to three sites in the fmgE promoter region. The effects of mutations on binding in vitro and on expression of fmgE-lacZ fusions correlated site 1 (at about position −100 relative to the transcriptional start site) with negative regulation and site 2 (just upstream of the promoter) and site 3 (at about position +100) with positive regulation. Site 3 was bound by His10-MrpC2 alone, or the combination of His10-MrpC2 and FruA-His6, with the highest affinity, followed by site 1 and then site 2, supporting a model in which site 3 recruits MrpC2 and FruA to the fmgE promoter region, site 1 competes with site 2 for transcription factor binding, and site 2 occupancy is required to activate the promoter but only occurs when C-signaling produces a high concentration of active FruA.
PMCID: PMC3133106  PMID: 21441502
17.  Regulation of the Myxococcus xanthus C-Signal-Dependent Ω4400 Promoter by the Essential Developmental Protein FruA 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(14):5167-5176.
The bacterium Myxococcus xanthus employs extracellular signals to coordinate aggregation and sporulation during multicellular development. Extracellular, contact-dependent signaling that involves the CsgA protein (called C-signaling) activates FruA, a putative response regulator that governs a branched signaling pathway inside cells. One branch regulates cell movement, leading to aggregation. The other branch regulates gene expression, leading to sporulation. C-signaling is required for full expression of most genes induced after 6 h into development, including the gene identified by Tn5 lac insertion Ω4400. To determine if FruA is a direct regulator of Ω4400 transcription, a combination of in vivo and in vitro experiments was performed. Ω4400 expression was abolished in a fruA mutant. The DNA-binding domain of FruA bound specifically to DNA upstream of the promoter −35 region in vitro. Mutations between bp −86 and −77 greatly reduced binding. One of these mutations had been shown previously to reduce Ω4400 expression in vivo and make it independent of C-signaling. For the first time, chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) experiments were performed on M. xanthus. The ChIP experiments demonstrated that FruA is associated with the Ω4400 promoter region late in development, even in the absence of C-signaling. Based on these results, we propose that FruA directly activates Ω4400 transcription to a moderate level prior to C-signaling and, in response to C-signaling, binds near bp −80 and activates transcription to a higher level. Also, the highly localized effects of mutations between bp −86 and −77 on DNA binding in vitro, together with recently published footprints, allow us to predict a consensus binding site of GTCG/CGA/G for the FruA DNA-binding domain.
PMCID: PMC1539954  PMID: 16816188
18.  The fruRBA Operon Is Necessary for Group A Streptococcal Growth in Fructose and for Resistance to Neutrophil Killing during Growth in Whole Human Blood 
Infection and Immunity  2016;84(4):1016-1031.
Bacterial pathogens rely on the availability of nutrients for survival in the host environment. The phosphoenolpyruvate-phosphotransferase system (PTS) is a global regulatory network connecting sugar uptake with signal transduction. Since the fructose PTS has been shown to impact virulence in several streptococci, including the human pathogen Streptococcus pyogenes (the group A Streptococcus [GAS]), we characterized its role in carbon metabolism and pathogenesis in the M1T1 strain 5448. Growth in fructose as a sole carbon source resulted in 103 genes affected transcriptionally, where the fru locus (fruRBA) was the most induced. Reverse transcriptase PCR showed that fruRBA formed an operon which was repressed by FruR in the absence of fructose, in addition to being under carbon catabolic repression. Growth assays and carbon utilization profiles revealed that although the entire fru operon was required for growth in fructose, FruA was the main transporter for fructose and also was involved in the utilization of three additional PTS sugars: cellobiose, mannitol, and N-acetyl-d-galactosamine. The inactivation of sloR, a fruA homolog that also was upregulated in the presence of fructose, failed to reveal a role as a secondary fructose transporter. Whereas the ability of both ΔfruR and ΔfruB mutants to survive in the presence of whole human blood or neutrophils was impaired, the phenotype was not reproduced in murine whole blood, and those mutants were not attenuated in a mouse intraperitoneal infection. Since the ΔfruA mutant exhibited no phenotype in the human or mouse assays, we propose that FruR and FruB are important for GAS survival in a human-specific environment.
PMCID: PMC4807502  PMID: 26787724
19.  Genetic Analysis of the Functions and Interactions of Components of the LevQRST Signal Transduction Complex of Streptococcus mutans 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17335.
Transcription of the genes for a fructan hydrolase (fruA) and a fructose/mannose sugar:phosphotransferase permease (levDEFG) in Streptococcus mutans is activated by a four-component regulatory system consisting of a histidine kinase (LevS), a response regulator (LevR) and two carbohydrate-binding proteins (LevQT). The expression of the fruA and levD operons was at baseline in a levQ mutant and substantially decreased in a levT null mutant, with lower expression with the cognate inducers fructose or mannose, but slightly higher expression in glucose or galactose. A strain expressing levQ with two point mutations (E170A/F292S) did not require inducers to activate gene expression and displayed altered levD expression when growing on various carbohydrates, including cellobiose. Linker-scanning (LS) mutagenesis was used to generate three libraries of mutants of levQ, levS and levT that displayed various levels of altered substrate specificity and of fruA/levD gene expression. The data support that LevQ and LevT are intimately involved in the sensing of carbohydrate signals, and that LevQ appears to be required for the integrity of the signal transduction complex, apparently by interacting with the sensor kinase LevS.
PMCID: PMC3043104  PMID: 21364902
20.  Mutational Analysis of the fruA Promoter Region Demonstrates that C-Box and 5-Base-Pair Elements Are Important for Expression of an Essential Developmental Gene of Myxococcus xanthus 
Journal of Bacteriology  2004;186(17):5961-5967.
Myxococcus xanthus uses extracellular signals during development to regulate gene expression. C-signaling regulates the expression of many genes induced after 6 h into development. FruA is a protein that is necessary for cells to respond to C-signaling, but expression of the fruA gene does not depend on C-signaling. Yet the fruA promoter region has a C box and a 5-bp element, similar to the promoter regions of several C-signal-dependent genes, where these sequences are crucial. Here, we show that the C box and 5-bp elements are important for expression of fruA, demonstrating for the first time that these sequences play a role in the expression of a gene that does not depend on C-signaling and is required for M. xanthus development.
PMCID: PMC516827  PMID: 15317804
21.  Physiological consequences of the complete loss of phosphoryl-transfer proteins HPr and FPr of the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system and analysis of fructose (fru) operon expression in Salmonella typhimurium. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1990;172(9):5459-5469.
Mutants of Salmonella typhimurium defective in the proteins of the fructose operon [fruB(MH)KA], the fructose repressor (fruR), the energy-coupling enzymes of the phosphoenolpyruvate:sugar phosphotransferase system (PTS) (ptsH and ptsI), and the proteins of cyclic AMP action (cya and crp) were analyzed for their effects on cellular physiological processes and expression of the fructose operon. The fru operon consists of three structural genes: fruB(MH), which encodes the enzyme IIIFru-modulator-FPr tridomain fusion protein of the PTS; fruK, which encodes fructose-1-phosphate kinase; and fruA, which encodes enzyme IIFru of the PTS. Among the mutants analyzed were Tn10 insertion mutants and lacZ transcriptional fusion mutants. It was found that whereas a fruR::Tn10 insertion mutant, several fruB(MH)::Mu dJ and fruK::Mu dJ fusion mutants, and several ptsHI deletion mutants expressed the fru operon and beta-galactosidase at high constitutive levels, ptsH point mutants and fruA::Mu dJ fusion mutants retained inducibility. Inclusion of the wild-type fru operon in trans did not restore fructose-inducible beta-galactosidase expression in the fru::Mu dJ fusion mutants. cya and crp mutants exhibited reduced basal activities of all fru regulon enzymes, but inducibility was not impaired. Surprisingly, fruB::Mu dJ crp or cya double mutants showed over 10-fold inducibility of the depressed beta-galactosidase activity upon addition of fructose, even though this activity in the fruB::Mu dJ fusion mutants that contained the wild-type cya and crp alleles was only slightly inducible. By contrast, beta-galactosidase activity in a fruK::Mu dJ fusion mutant, which was similarly depressed by introduction of a crp or cya mutation, remained constitutive. Other experiments indicated that sugar uptake via the PTS can utilize either FPr-P or HPr-P as the phosphoryl donor, but that FPr is preferred for fructose uptake whereas HPr is preferred for uptake of the other sugars. Double mutants lacking both proteins were negative for the utilization of all sugar substrates of the PTS, were negative for the utilization of several gluconeogenic carbon sources, exhibited greatly reduced adenylate cyclase activity, and were largely nonmotile. These phenotypic properties are more extreme than those observed for tight ptsH and ptsI mutants, including mutants deleted for these genes. A biochemical explanation for this fact is proposed.
PMCID: PMC213213  PMID: 2203752
22.  Fructose Utilization in Lactococcus lactis as a Model for Low-GC Gram-Positive Bacteria: Its Regulator, Signal, and DNA-Binding Site 
Journal of Bacteriology  2005;187(11):3752-3761.
In addition to its role as carbon and energy source, fructose metabolism was reported to affect other cellular processes, such as biofilm formation by streptococci and bacterial pathogenicity in plants. Fructose genes encoding a 1-phosphofructokinase and a phosphotransferase system (PTS) fructose-specific enzyme IIABC component reside commonly in a gene cluster with a DeoR family regulator in various gram-positive bacteria. We present a comprehensive study of fructose metabolism in Lactococcus lactis, including a systematic study of fru mutants, global messenger analysis, and a molecular characterization of its regulation. The fru operon is regulated at the transcriptional level by both FruR and CcpA and at the metabolic level by inducer exclusion. The FruR effector is fructose-1-phosphate (F1P), as shown by combined analysis of transcription and measurements of the intracellular F1P pools in mutants either unable to produce this metabolite or accumulating it. The regulation of the fru operon by FruR requires four adjacent 10-bp direct repeats. The well-conserved organization of the fru promoter region in various low-GC gram-positive bacteria, including CRE boxes as well as the newly defined FruR motif, suggests that the regulation scheme defined in L. lactis could be applied to these bacteria. Transcriptome profiling of fruR and fruC mutants revealed that the effect of F1P and FruR regulation is limited to the fru operon in L. lactis. This result is enforced by the fact that no other targets for FruR were found in the available low-GC gram-positive bacteria genomes, suggesting that additional phenotypical effects due to fructose metabolism do not rely directly on FruR control, but rather on metabolism.
PMCID: PMC1112048  PMID: 15901699
23.  Combinatorial Regulation of the dev Operon by MrpC2 and FruA during Myxococcus xanthus Development 
Journal of Bacteriology  2014;197(2):240-251.
Proper expression of the dev operon is important for normal development of Myxococcus xanthus. When starved, these bacteria coordinate their gliding movements to build mounds that become fruiting bodies as some cells differentiate into spores. Mutations in the devTRS genes impair sporulation. Expression of the operon occurs within nascent fruiting bodies and depends in part on C signaling. Here, we report that expression of the dev operon, like that of several other C-signal-dependent genes, is subject to combinatorial control by the transcription factors MrpC2 and FruA. A DNA fragment upstream of the dev promoter was bound by a protein in an extract containing MrpC2, protecting the region spanning positions −77 to −54. Mutations in this region impaired binding of purified MrpC2 and abolished developmental expression of reporter fusions. The association of MrpC2 and/or its longer form, MrpC, with the dev promoter region depended on FruA in vivo, based on chromatin immunoprecipitation analysis, and purified FruA appeared to bind cooperatively with MrpC2 to DNA just upstream of the dev promoter in vitro. We conclude that cooperative binding of the two proteins to this promoter-proximal site is crucial for dev expression. 5′ deletion analysis implied a second upstream positive regulatory site, which corresponded to a site of weak cooperative binding of MrpC2 and FruA and boosted dev expression 24 h into development. This site is unique among the C-signal-dependent genes studied so far. Deletion of this site in the M. xanthus chromosome did not impair sporulation under laboratory conditions.
PMCID: PMC4272585  PMID: 25349159
24.  Transcription factor MrpC binds to promoter regions of hundreds of developmentally-regulated genes in Myxococcus xanthus 
BMC Genomics  2014;15(1):1123.
Myxococcus xanthus is a bacterium that undergoes multicellular development when starved. Cells move to aggregation centers and form fruiting bodies in which cells differentiate into dormant spores. MrpC appears to directly activate transcription of fruA, which also codes for a transcription factor. Both MrpC and FruA are crucial for aggregation and sporulation. The two proteins bind cooperatively in promoter regions of some developmental genes.
Chromatin immunoprecipitation followed by DNA sequencing (ChIP-seq) and bioinformatic analysis of cells that had formed nascent fruiting bodies revealed 1608 putative MrpC binding sites. These sites included several known to bind MrpC and they were preferentially distributed in likely promoter regions, especially those of genes up-regulated during development. The up-regulated genes include 22 coding for protein kinases. Some of these are known to be directly involved in fruiting body formation and several negatively regulate MrpC accumulation. Our results also implicate MrpC as a direct activator or repressor of genes coding for several transcription factors known to be important for development, for a major spore protein and several proteins important for spore formation, for proteins involved in extracellular A- and C-signaling, and intracellular ppGpp-signaling during development, and for proteins that control the fate of other proteins or play a role in motility. We found that the putative MrpC binding sites revealed by ChIP-seq are enriched for DNA sequences that strongly resemble a consensus sequence for MrpC binding proposed previously. MrpC2, an N-terminally truncated form of MrpC, bound to DNA sequences matching the consensus in all 11 cases tested. Using longer DNA segments containing 15 of the putative MrpC binding sites from our ChIP-seq analysis as probes in electrophoretic mobility shift assays, evidence for one or more MrpC2 binding site was observed in all cases and evidence for cooperative binding of MrpC2 and FruA was seen in 13 cases.
We conclude that MrpC and MrpC2 bind to promoter regions of hundreds of developmentally-regulated genes in M. xanthus, in many cases cooperatively with FruA. This binding very likely up-regulates protein kinases, and up- or down-regulates other proteins that profoundly influence the developmental process.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-1123) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4320627  PMID: 25515642
MrpC; Myxococcus xanthus; ChIP-seq; FruA; Fruiting body; Sporulation; Gene regulation; Transcription factor; Cooperative DNA binding; Protein kinase
25.  In Vivo Analysis of HPr Reveals a Fructose-Specific Phosphotransferase System That Confers High-Affinity Uptake in Streptomyces coelicolor 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(3):929-937.
HPr, the histidine-containing phosphocarrier protein of the bacterial phosphotransferase system (PTS), serves multiple functions in carbohydrate uptake and carbon source regulation in low-G+C-content gram-positive bacteria and in gram-negative bacteria. To assess the role of HPr in the high-G+C-content gram-positive organism Streptomyces coelicolor, the encoding gene, ptsH, was deleted. The ptsH mutant BAP1 was impaired in fructose utilization, while growth on other carbon sources was not affected. Uptake assays revealed that BAP1 could not transport appreciable amounts of fructose, while the wild type showed inducible high-affinity fructose transport with an apparent Km of 2 μM. Complementation and reconstitution experiments demonstrated that HPr is indispensable for a fructose-specific PTS activity. Investigation of the putative fruKA gene locus led to identification of the fructose-specific enzyme II permease encoded by the fruA gene. Synthesis of HPr was not specifically enhanced in fructose-grown cells and occurred also in the presence of non-PTS carbon sources. Transcriptional analysis of ptsH revealed two promoters that are carbon source regulated. In contrast to what happens in other bacteria, glucose repression of glycerol kinase was still operative in a ptsH background, which suggests that HPr is not involved in general carbon regulation. However, fructose repression of glycerol kinase was lost in BAP1, indicating that the fructose-PTS is required for transduction of the signal. This study provides the first molecular genetic evidence of a physiological role of the PTS in S. coelicolor.
PMCID: PMC142823  PMID: 12533468

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