DNA sequence analysis revealed that the putative yhdJ DNA methyltransferase gene of Escherichia coli is 55% identical to the Nostoc sp. strain PCC7120 gene encoding DNA methyltransferase AvaIII, which methylates adenine in the recognition sequence, ATGCAT. The yhdJ gene was cloned, and the enzyme was overexpressed and purified. Methylation and restriction analysis showed that the DNA methyltransferase methylates the first adenine in the sequence ATGCAT. This DNA methylation was found to be regulated during the cell cycle, and the DNA adenine methyltransferase was designated M.EcoKCcrM (for “cell cycle-regulated methyltransferase”). The CcrM DNA adenine methyltransferase is required for viability in E. coli, as a strain lacking a functional genomic copy of ccrM can be isolated only in the presence of an additional copy of ccrM supplied in trans. The cells of such a knockout strain stopped growing when expression of the inducible plasmid ccrM gene was shut off. Overexpression of M.EcoKCcrM slowed bacterial growth, and the ATGCAT sites became fully methylated throughout the cell cycle; a high proportion of cells with an anomalous size distribution and DNA content was found in this population. Thus, the temporal control of this methyltransferase may contribute to accurate cell cycle control of cell division and cellular morphology. Homologs of M.EcoKCcrM are present in other bacteria belonging to the gamma subdivision of the class Proteobacteria, suggesting that methylation at ATGCAT sites may have similar functions in other members of this group.
The CcrM DNA methyltransferase of the α-proteobacteria catalyzes the methylation of the adenine in the sequence GAnTC. Like Dam in the enterobacteria, CcrM plays a regulatory role in Caulobacter crescentus and Rhizobium meliloti. CcrM is essential for viability in both of these organisms, and we show here that it is also essential in Brucella abortus. Further, increased copy number of the ccrM gene results in striking changes in B. abortus morphology, DNA replication, and growth in murine macrophages. We generated strains that carry ccrM either on a low-copy-number plasmid (strain GR131) or on a moderate-copy-number plasmid (strain GR132). Strain GR131 has wild-type morphology and chromosome number, as assessed by flow cytometry. In contrast, strain GR132 has abnormal branched morphology, suggesting aberrant cell division, and increased chromosome number. Although these strains exhibit different morphologies and DNA content, the replication of both strains in macrophages is attenuated. These data imply that the reduction in survival in host cells is not due solely to a cell division defect but is due to additional functions of CcrM. Because CcrM is essential in B. abortus and increased ccrM copy number attenuates survival in host cells, we propose that CcrM is an appropriate target for new antibiotics.
DNA methylation is now recognized as a regulator of multiple bacterial cellular processes. CcrM is a DNA adenine methyltransferase found in the alpha subdivision of the proteobacteria. Like the Dam enzyme, which is found primarily in Escherichia coli and other gamma proteobacteria, it does not appear to be part of a DNA restriction-modification system. The CcrM homolog of Agrobacterium tumefaciens was found to be essential for viability. Overexpression of CcrM is associated with significant abnormalities of cell morphology and DNA ploidy. Mapping of the transcriptional start site revealed a conserved binding motif for the global response regulator CtrA at the −35 position; this motif was footprinted by purified Caulobacter crescentus CtrA protein in its phosphorylated state. We have succeeded in isolating synchronized populations of Agrobacterium cells and analyzing their progression through the cell cycle. We demonstrate that DNA replication and cell division can be followed in an orderly manner and that flagellin expression is cyclic, consistent with our observation that motility varies during the cell cycle. Using these synchronized populations, we show that CcrM methylation of the chromosome is restricted to the late S phase of the cell cycle. Thus, within the alpha subdivision, there is a conserved cell cycle dependence and regulatory mechanism controlling ccrM expression.
The Caulobacter crescentus DNA methyltransferase CcrM (M.CcrMI) methylates the adenine residue in the sequence GANTC. The CcrM DNA methyltransferase is essential for viability, but it does not appear to be part of a DNA restriction-modification system. CcrM homologs are widespread in the alpha subdivision of gram-negative bacteria. We have amplified and sequenced a 258-bp region of the cerM gene from several of these bacteria, including Rhizobium meliloti, Brucella abortus, Agrobacterium tumefaciens, and Rhodobacter capsulatus. Alignment of the deduced amino acid sequences revealed that these proteins constitute a highly conserved DNA methyltransferase family. Isolation of the full-length ccrM genes from the aquatic bacterium C. crescentus, the soil bacterium R. meliloti, and the intracellular pathogen B. abortus showed that this sequence conservation extends over the entire protein. In at least two alpha subdivision bacteria, R. meliloti and C. crescentus, CcrM-mediated methylation has important cellular functions. In both organisms, CcrM is essential for viability. Overexpression of CcrM in either bacterium results in defects in cell division and cell morphology and in the initiation of DNA replication. Finally, the C. crescentus and R. meliloti ccrM genes are functionally interchangeable, as the complemented strains are viable and the chromosomes are methylated. Thus, in both R. meliloti and C. crescentus, CcrM methylation is an integral component of the cell cycle. We speculate that CcrM-mediated DNA methylation is likely to have similar roles among alpha subdivision bacteria.
DNA methylation regulates many processes, including gene expression, by superimposing secondary information on DNA sequences. The conserved CcrM enzyme, which methylates adenines in GANTC sequences, is essential to the viability of several Alphaproteobacteria. In this study, we find that Caulobacter crescentus cells lacking the CcrM enzyme accumulate low levels of the two conserved FtsZ and MipZ proteins, leading to a severe defect in cell division. This defect can be compensated by the expression of the ftsZ gene from an inducible promoter or by spontaneous suppressor mutations that promote FtsZ accumulation. We show that CcrM promotes the transcription of the ftsZ and mipZ genes and that the ftsZ and mipZ promoter regions contain a conserved CGACTC motif that is critical to their activities and to their regulation by CcrM. In addition, our results suggest that the ftsZ promoter has the lowest activity when the CGACTC motif is non-methylated, an intermediate activity when it is hemi-methylated and the highest activity when it is fully methylated. The regulation of ftsZ expression by DNA methylation may explain why CcrM is essential in a subset of Alphaproteobacteria.
N6-methyl-adenine is found in the genomes of bacteria, archaea, protists, and fungi. Most bacterial DNA adenine methyltransferases are part of restriction-modification systems. In addition, certain groups of Proteobacteria harbor solitary DNA adenine methyltransferases that provide signals for DNA-protein interactions. In γ-Proteobacteria, Dam methylation regulates chromosome replication, nucleoid segregation, DNA repair, transposition of insertion elements, and transcription of specific genes. In Salmonella, Haemophilus, Yersinia, Vibrio, and pathogenic E. coli, Dam methylation is required for virulence. In α-Proteobacteria, CcrM methylation regulates the cell cycle in Caulobacter, Rhizobium, and Agrobacterium, and plays a role in Brucella abortus infection.
Adenine; analogs & derivatives; metabolism; physiology; Bacteria; genetics; metabolism; pathogenicity; Bacterial Proteins; metabolism; Cell Cycle; Chromosomes, Bacterial; metabolism; DNA Methylation; DNA Repair; DNA, Bacterial; genetics; metabolism; Epigenesis, Genetic; Genes, Bacterial; genetics; Mutagenesis, Insertional; Proteobacteria; genetics; physiology; Site-Specific DNA-Methyltransferase (Adenine-Specific); genetics; metabolism; Transcription, Genetic
The expression of the Caulobacter ccrM gene and the activity of its product, the M.Ccr II DNA methyltransferase, are limited to a discrete portion of the cell cycle (G. Zweiger, G. Marczynski, and L. Shapiro, J. Mol. Biol. 235:472-485, 1994). Temporal control of DNA methylation has been shown to be critical for normal development in the dimorphic Caulobacter life cycle. To understand the mechanism by which ccrM expression is regulated during the cell cycle, we have identified and characterized the ccrM promoter region. We have found that it belongs to an unusual promoter family used by several Caulobacter class II flagellar genes. The expression of these class II genes initiates assembly of the flagellum just prior to activation of the ccrM promoter in the predivisional cell. Mutational analysis of two M.Ccr II methylation sites located 3' to the ccrM promoter suggests that methylation might influence the temporally controlled inactivation of ccrM transcription. An additional parallel between the ccrM and class II flagellar promoters is that their transcription responds to a cell cycle DNA replication checkpoint. We propose that a common regulatory system coordinates the expression of functionally diverse genes during the Caulobacter cell cycle.
Like many eukaryotes, bacteria make widespread use of postreplicative DNA methylation for the epigenetic control of DNA-protein interactions. Unlike eukaryotes, however, bacteria use DNA adenine methylation (rather than DNA cytosine methylation) as an epigenetic signal. DNA adenine methylation plays roles in the virulence of diverse pathogens of humans and livestock animals, including pathogenic Escherichia coli, Salmonella, Vibrio, Yersinia, Haemophilus, and Brucella. In Alphaproteobacteria, methylation of adenine at GANTC sites by the CcrM methylase regulates the cell cycle and couples gene transcription to DNA replication. In Gammaproteobacteria, adenine methylation at GATC sites by the Dam methylase provides signals for DNA replication, chromosome segregation, mismatch repair, packaging of bacteriophage genomes, transposase activity, and regulation of gene expression. Transcriptional repression by Dam methylation appears to be more common than transcriptional activation. Certain promoters are active only during the hemimethylation interval that follows DNA replication; repression is restored when the newly synthesized DNA strand is methylated. In the E. coli genome, however, methylation of specific GATC sites can be blocked by cognate DNA binding proteins. Blockage of GATC methylation beyond cell division permits transmission of DNA methylation patterns to daughter cells and can give rise to distinct epigenetic states, each propagated by a positive feedback loop. Switching between alternative DNA methylation patterns can split clonal bacterial populations into epigenetic lineages in a manner reminiscent of eukaryotic cell differentiation. Inheritance of self-propagating DNA methylation patterns governs phase variation in the E. coli pap operon, the agn43 gene, and other loci encoding virulence-related cell surface functions.
Several regulators are involved in the control of cell cycle progression in the bacterial model system Caulobacter crescentus, which divides asymmetrically into a vegetative G1-phase (swarmer) cell and a replicative S-phase (stalked) cell. Here we report a novel functional interaction between the enigmatic cell cycle regulator GcrA and the N6-adenosine methyltransferase CcrM, both highly conserved proteins among Alphaproteobacteria, that are activated early and at the end of S-phase, respectively. As no direct biochemical and regulatory relationship between GcrA and CcrM were known, we used a combination of ChIP (chromatin-immunoprecipitation), biochemical and biophysical experimentation, and genetics to show that GcrA is a dimeric DNA–binding protein that preferentially targets promoters harbouring CcrM methylation sites. After tracing CcrM-dependent N6-methyl-adenosine promoter marks at a genome-wide scale, we show that these marks recruit GcrA in vitro and in vivo. Moreover, we found that, in the presence of a methylated target, GcrA recruits the RNA polymerase to the promoter, consistent with its role in transcriptional activation. Since methylation-dependent DNA binding is also observed with GcrA orthologs from other Alphaproteobacteria, we conclude that GcrA is the founding member of a new and conserved class of transcriptional regulators that function as molecular effectors of a methylation-dependent (non-heritable) epigenetic switch that regulates gene expression during the cell cycle.
Methylation of genomic DNA at a specific regulatory site can impact a myriad of processes in eukaryotic cells. In bacteria, methylation at the N6 position of adenosine (m6A) is known to mediate a non-adaptive immunity response to protect cells from foreign DNA. While m6A marks are not known to govern expression of cell cycle genes in Gammaproteobacteria, cell cycle transcription in the model alphaproteobacterium Caulobacter crescentus requires the m6A methyltransferase CcrM that introduces m6A marks at GAnTC sequences and the enigmatic factor GcrA. Investigating if a functional and biochemical relationship exists between CcrM and GcrA, we found that CcrM-dependent m6A marks recruit GcrA to the promoters of cell cycle genes in vitro and in vivo and is required for efficient transcription. GcrA interacts with RNA polymerase, explaining how cell cycle transcription is affected. Importantly, m6A-dependent binding is also seen in GcrA orthologs, indicating that this transcriptional regulatory mechanism by CcrM and GcrA is conserved in Alphaproteobacteria.
In its role as a global response regulator, CtrA controls the transcription of a diverse group of genes at different times in the Caulobacter crescentus cell cycle. To understand the differential regulation of CtrA-controlled genes, we compared the expression of two of these genes, the fliQ flagellar gene and the ccrM DNA methyltransferase gene. Despite their similar promoter architecture, these genes are transcribed at different times in the cell cycle. PfliQ is activated earlier than PccrM. Phosphorylated CtrA (CtrA∼P) bound to the CtrA recognition sequence in both promoters but had a 10- to 20-fold greater affinity for PfliQ. This difference in affinity correlates with temporal changes in the cellular levels of CtrA. Disrupting a unique inverted repeat element in PccrM significantly reduced promoter activity but not the timing of transcription initiation, suggesting that the inverted repeat does not play a major role in the temporal control of ccrM expression. Our data indicate that differences in the affinity of CtrA∼P for PfliQ and PccrM regulate, in part, the temporal expression of these genes. However, the timing of fliQ transcription but not of ccrM transcription was altered in cells expressing a stable CtrA derivative, indicating that changes in CtrA∼P levels alone cannot govern the cell cycle transcription of these genes. We propose that changes in the cellular concentration of CtrA∼P and its interaction with accessory proteins influence the temporal expression of fliQ, ccrM, and other key cell cycle genes and ultimately the regulation of the cell cycle.
Peptidoglycan hydrolase, LytF (CwlE), was determined to be identical to YhdD (deduced cell wall binding protein) by zymography after insertional inactivation of the yhdD gene. YhdD exhibits high sequence similarity with CwlF (PapQ, LytE) and p60 of Listeria monocytogenes. The N-terminal region of YhdD has a signal sequence followed by five tandem repeated regions containing polyserine residues. The C-terminal region corresponds to the catalytic domain, because a truncated protein without the N-terminal region retained cell wall hydrolase activity. The histidine-tagged LytF protein produced in Escherichia coli cells hydrolyzed the linkage of d-γ-glutamyl-meso-diaminopimelic acid in murein peptides, indicating that it is a d,l-endopeptidase. Northern hybridization and primer extension analyses indicated that the lytF gene was transcribed by EςD RNA polymerase. Disruption of lytF led to slightly filamentous cells, and a lytF cwlF double mutant exhibited extraordinary microfiber formation, which is similar to the cell morphology of the cwlF sigD mutant.
The Escherichia coli YhdH polypeptide is in the MDR012 sub-group of medium chain reductase/dehydrogenases, but its biological function was unknown and no phenotypes of YhdH− mutants had been described. We found that an E. coli strain with an insertional mutation in yhdH was hyper-sensitive to inhibitory effects of acrylate, and, to a lesser extent, to those of 3-hydroxypropionate. Close homologues of YhdH occur in many Bacterial taxa and at least two animals. The acrylate sensitivity of YhdH− mutants was corrected by the corresponding, cloned homologues from several bacteria. One such homologue is acuI, which has a role in acrylate degradation in marine bacteria that catabolise dimethylsulfoniopropionate (DMSP) an abundant anti-stress compound made by marine phytoplankton. The acuI genes of such bacteria are often linked to ddd genes that encode enzymes that cleave DMSP into acrylate plus dimethyl sulfide (DMS), even though these are in different polypeptide families, in unrelated bacteria. Furthermore, most strains of Roseobacters, a clade of abundant marine bacteria, cleave DMSP into acrylate plus DMS, and can also demethylate it, using DMSP demethylase. In most Roseobacters, the corresponding gene, dmdA, lies immediately upstream of acuI and in the model Roseobacter strain Ruegeria pomeroyi DSS-3, dmdA-acuI were co-regulated in response to the co-inducer, acrylate. These observations, together with findings by others that AcuI has acryloyl-CoA reductase activity, lead us to suggest that YdhH/AcuI enzymes protect cells against damaging effects of intracellular acryloyl-CoA, formed endogenously, and/or via catabolising exogenous acrylate. To provide “added protection” for bacteria that form acrylate from DMSP, acuI was recruited into clusters of genes involved in this conversion and, in the case of acuI and dmdA in the Roseobacters, their co-expression may underpin an interaction between the two routes of DMSP catabolism, whereby the acrylate product of DMSP lyases is a co-inducer for the demethylation pathway.
Translation of mRNA lacking an in-frame stop codon leads to ribosome arrest at the 3´-end of the transcript. In bacteria, the tmRNA quality control system recycles these stalled ribosomes and tags the incomplete nascent chains for degradation. Although ubiquitous in eubacteria, the ssrA gene encoding tmRNA is not essential for the viability of Escherichia coli and other model bacterial species. ArfA (YhdL) is a mediator of tmRNA-independent ribosome rescue that is essential for the viability of E. coli ΔssrA mutants. Here, we demonstrate that ArfA is synthesized from truncated mRNA and therefore regulated by tmRNA tagging activity. RNase III cleaves a hairpin structure within the arfA coding sequence to produce transcripts that lack stop codons. In the absence of tmRNA tagging, truncated ArfA chains are released from the ribosome. The truncated ArfAΔ18 protein (which lacks 18 C-terminal residues) is functional in ribosome rescue and supports ΔssrA cell viability when expressed from the arfA locus. Other proteobacterial arfA genes also encode hairpins, and transcripts from Dickeya dadantii and Salmonella typhimurium are cleaved by RNase III when expressed in E. coli. Thus, synthesis of ArfA from truncated mRNA appears to be a general mechanism to regulate alternative ribosome rescue activity.
The specificity and processivity of DNA methyltransferases have important implications regarding their biological functions. We have investigated the sequence specificity of CcrM and show here that the enzyme has a high specificity for GANTC sites, with only minor preferences at the central position. It slightly prefers hemimethylated DNA, which represents the physiological substrate. In a previous work, CcrM was reported to be highly processive [Berdis et al. (1998) Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA
95: 2874–2879]. However upon review of this work, we identified a technical error in the setup of a crucial experiment in this publication, which prohibits making any statement about the processivity of CcrM. In this study, we performed a series of in vitro experiments to study CcrM processivity. We show that it distributively methylates six target sites on the pUC19 plasmid as well as two target sites located on a 129-mer DNA fragment both in unmethylated and hemimethylated state. Reaction quenching experiments confirmed the lack of processivity. We conclude that the original statement that CcrM is processive is no longer valid.
A systematic search for motifs associated with CcrM DNA methylation sites revealed four long (>100-bp) motifs (CIR sequences) present in up to 21 copies in Caulobacter crescentus. The CIR1 and CIR2 motifs exhibit a conserved inverted repeat organization, with a CcrM site in the center of one of the repeats.
The Dam methylase of gamma-proteobacteria and the CcrM methylase of alpha-proteobacteria catalyze an identical reaction (methylation of adenosine moieties using S-adenosyl-methionine as methyl donor) at similar DNA targets (GATC and GANTC, respectively). Dam and CcrM are of independent evolutionary origin. Each may have evolved from an ancestral restriction-modification system that lost its restriction component, leaving an “orphan” methylase devoted solely to epigenetic genome modification. Formation of 6-methyladenine lowers the thermodynamic stability of DNA and changes DNA curvature. As a consequence, the methylation state of specific adenosine moieties can affect DNA-protein interactions. Well known examples include binding of the replication initiation complex to the methylated oriC, recognition of hemimethylated GATCs in newly replicated DNA by the MutHLS mismatch repair complex, and discrimination of methylation states in promoters and regulatory DNA motifs by RNA polymerase and transcription factors. In recent years, Dam and CcrM have been shown to play roles in host-pathogen interactions. These roles are diverse and only partially understood. Especially intriguing is the evidence that Dam methylation regulates virulence genes in E. coli, Salmonella, and Yersinia at the postranscriptional level.
Dam; CcrM; Pathogenic bacteria; Transcription; GATC regulation
This report provides in vivo evidence for the posttranslational control of the acetyl coenzyme A (Ac-CoA) synthetase (AcsA) enzyme of Bacillus subtilis by the acuA and acuC gene products. In addition, both in vivo and in vitro data presented support the conclusion that the yhdZ gene of B. subtilis encodes a NAD+-dependent protein deacetylase homologous to the yeast Sir2 protein (also known as sirtuin). On the basis of this new information, a change in gene nomenclature, from yhdZ to srtN (for sirtuin), is proposed to reflect the activity associated with the YdhZ protein. In vivo control of B. subtilis AcsA function required the combined activities of AcuC and SrtN. Inactivation of acuC or srtN resulted in slower growth and cell yield under low-acetate conditions than those of the wild-type strain, and the acuC srtN strain grew under low-acetate conditions as poorly as the acsA strain. Our interpretation of the latter result was that both deacetylases (AcuC and SrtN) are needed to maintain AcsA as active (i.e., deacetylated) so the cell can grow with low concentrations of acetate. Growth of an acuA acuC srtN strain on acetate was improved over that of the acuA+ acuC srtN strain, indicating that the AcuA acetyltransferase enzyme modifies (i.e., inactivates) AcsA in vivo, a result consistent with previously reported in vitro evidence that AcsA is a substrate of AcuA.
The iroB gene of Salmonella enterica is absent from the chromosome of the related organism Escherichia coli. We determined the distribution of this gene among 150 bacterial isolates, representing 51 serotypes of different Salmonella species and subspecies and 8 other bacterial species which are frequent contaminants during routine enrichment procedures by Southern hybridization. An iroB-specific DNA probe detected homologous sequences in all strains of S. enterica, including serotypes of S. enterica subsp. enterica (I), salamae (II), diarizonae (IIIb), and houtenae (IV). No hybridization signal was obtained with strains of Salmonella bongori or other bacterial species. In contrast, hybridization with a DNA probe specific for purD, a purine biosynthesis gene, detected homologs in all bacterial species tested. Primers specific for iroB were used to amplify this gene from 197 bacterial isolates by PCR. The iroB gene could be PCR amplified from S. enterica subsp. enterica (I), salamae (II), diarizonae (IIIb), houtenae (IV), arizonae (IIIa), and indica (VI), but not from S. bongori or other bacterial species. Thus, PCR amplification of iroB can be used to distinguish between S. enterica and other bacterial species, including S. bongori. A combination of preenrichment in buffered peptone water supplemented with ferrioxamine E and amplification of iroB by magnetic immuno-PCR allowed detection of S. enterica in albumen within 24 h. In conclusion, PCR amplification of iroB is a new sensitive and selective method which has the potential to rapidly detect S. enterica serotypes.
The genomic region encoding the type IIS restriction-modification (R-M) system HphI (enzymes recognizing the asymmetric sequence 5'-GGTGA-3'/5'-TCACC-3') from Haemophilus parahaemolyticus were cloned into Escherichia coli and sequenced. Sequence analysis of the R-M HphI system revealed three adjacent genes aligned in the same orientation: a cytosine 5 methyltransferase (gene hphIMC), an adenine N6 methyltransferase (hphIMA) and the HphI restriction endonuclease (gene hphIR). Either methyltransferase is capable of protecting plasmid DNA in vivo against the action of the cognate restriction endonuclease. hphIMA methylation renders plasmid DNA resistant to R.Hindill at overlapping sites, suggesting that the adenine methyltransferase modifies the 3'-terminal A residue on the GGTGA strand. Strong homology was found between the N-terminal part of the m6A methyltransferasease and an unidentified reading frame interrupted by an incomplete gaIE gene of Neisseria meningitidis. The HphI R-M genes are flanked by a copy of a 56 bp direct nucleotide repeat on each side. Similar sequences have also been identified in the non-coding regions of H.influenzae Rd DNA. Possible involvement of the repeat sequences in the mobility of the HphI R-M system is discussed.
Escherichia coli ssrA encodes a small stable RNA molecule, tmRNA, that has many diverse functions, including tagging abnormal proteins for degradation, supporting phage growth, and modulating the activity of DNA binding proteins. Here we show that ssrA plays a role in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium pathogenesis and in the expression of several genes known to be induced during infection. Moreover, the phage-like attachment site, attL, encoded within ssrA, serves as the site of integration of a region of Salmonella-specific sequence; adjacent to the 5′ end of ssrA is another region of Salmonella-specific sequence with extensive homology to predicted proteins encoded within the unlinked Salmonella pathogenicity island SPI4. S. enterica serovar Typhimurium ssrA mutants fail to support the growth of phage P22 and are delayed in their ability to form viable phage particles following induction of a phage P22 lysogen. These data indicate that ssrA plays a role in the pathogenesis of Salmonella, serves as an attachment site for Salmonella-specific sequences, and is required for the growth of phage P22.
A genetic screen for suppressors of bile sensitivity in DNA adenine methylase (dam) mutants of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium yielded insertions in an uncharacterized locus homologous to the Escherichia coli asmA gene. Disruption of asmA suppressed bile sensitivity also in phoP and wec mutants of S. enterica and increased the MIC of sodium deoxycholate for the parental strain ATCC 14028. Increased levels of marA mRNA were found in asmA, asmA dam, asmA phoP, and asmA wec strains of S. enterica, suggesting that lack of AsmA activates expression of the marRAB operon. Hence, asmA mutations may enhance bile resistance by inducing gene expression changes in the marRAB-controlled Mar regulon. In silico analysis of AsmA structure predicted the existence of one transmembrane domain. Biochemical analysis of subcellular fractions revealed that the asmA gene of S. enterica encodes a protein of ∼70 kDa located in the outer membrane. Because AsmA is unrelated to known transport and/or efflux systems, we propose that activation of marRAB in asmA mutants may be a consequence of envelope reorganization. Competitive infection of BALB/c mice with asmA+ and asmA isogenic strains indicated that lack of AsmA attenuates Salmonella virulence by the oral route but not by the intraperitoneal route. Furthermore, asmA mutants showed a reduced ability to invade epithelial cells in vitro.
High temperature and other environmental stresses induce the expression of several heat shock proteins in Caulobacter crescentus, including the molecular chaperones DnaJ, DnaK, GrpE, and GroEL and the Lon protease. We report here the isolation of the rpoH gene encoding a homolog of the Escherichia coli RNA polymerase sigma32 subunit, the sigma factor responsible for the transcription of heat shock promoters. The C. crescentus sigma32 homolog, predicted to be a 33.7-kDa protein, is 42% identical to E. coli sigma32 and cross-reacts with a monoclonal antibody to E. coli sigma32. Functional homology was demonstrated by complementing the temperature-sensitive growth defect of an E. coli rpoH deletion mutant with the C. crescentus rpoH gene. Immunoblot analysis showed a transient rise in sigma32 levels after a temperature shift from 30 to 42 degrees C similar to that described for E. coli. In addition, increasing the cellular content of sigma32 by introducing a plasmid-encoded copy of rpoH induced DnaK expression in C. crescentus cultures grown at 30 degrees C. The C. crescentus rpoH gene was transcribed from either of two heat shock consensus promoters. rpoH transcription and sigma32 levels increased coordinately following heat shock, indicating that transcriptional regulation contributes to sigma32 expression in this organism. Both the rpoH gene and sigma32 protein were expressed constitutively throughout the cell cycle at 30 degrees C. The isolation of rpoH provides an important tool for future studies of the role of sigma32 in the normal physiology of C. crescentus.
Bacteriophage T2 codes for a DNA-(adenine-N6)methyltransferase (Dam), which is able to methylate both cytosine- and hydroxymethylcytosine-containing DNAs to a greater extent than the corresponding methyltransferase encoded by bacteriophage T4. We have cloned and sequenced the T2 dam gene and compared it with the T4 dam gene. In the Dam coding region, there are 22 nucleotide differences, 4 of which result in three coding differences (2 are in the same codon). Two of the amino acid alterations are located in a region of homology that is shared by T2 and T4 Dam, Escherichia coli Dam, and the modification enzyme of Streptococcus pneumoniae, all of which methylate the sequence 5' GATC 3'. The T2 dam and T4 dam promoters are not identical and appear to have slightly different efficiencies; when fused to the E. coli lacZ gene, the T4 promoter produces about twofold more beta-galactosidase activity than does the T2 promoter. In our first attempt to isolate T2 dam, a truncated gene was cloned on a 1.67-kilobase XbaI fragment. This construct produces a chimeric protein composed of the first 163 amino acids of T2 Dam followed by 83 amino acids coded by the pUC18 vector. Surprisingly, the chimera has Dam activity, but only on cytosine-containing DNA. Genetic and physical analyses place the T2 dam gene at the same respective map location as the T4 dam gene. However, relative to T4, T2 contains an insertion of 536 base pairs 5' to the dam gene. Southern blot hybridization and computer analysis failed to reveal any homology between this insert and either T4 or E. coli DNA.
O antigen is part of the lipopolysaccharide present in the outer membrane of gram-negative bacteria. Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica each have many forms of O antigen, but only three are common to the two species. It has been found that, in general, O-antigen genes are of low GC content. This deviation in GC content from that of typical S. enterica or E. coli genes (51%) is thought to indicate that the O-antigen DNA originated in species other than S. enterica or E. coli and was captured by lateral transfer. The O-antigen structure of Salmonella enterica O35 is identical to that of E. coli O111, commonly found in enteropathogenic E. coli strains. This O antigen, which has been shown to be a virulence factor in E. coli, contains colitose, a 3,6-dideoxyhexose found only rarely in the Enterobacteriaceae. Sequencing of the O35-antigen gene cluster of S. enterica serovar Adelaide revealed the same gene order and flanking genes as in E. coli O111. The divergence between corresponding genes of these two gene clusters at the nucleotide level ranges from 21.8 to 11.7%, within the normal range of divergence between S. enterica and E. coli. We conclude that the ancestor of E. coli and S. enterica had an O antigen identical to the O111 and O35 antigens, respectively, of these species and that the gene cluster encoding it has survived in both species.
Seventy-one natural isolates obtained from a Salmonella reference collection were examined for the presence of plasmids closely related to the Escherichia coli F plasmid. The collection consists of several serovars of the S. enterica Typhimurium complex, subspecies I, to which 99% of pathogenic salmonellae belong. Molecular genetic techniques of DNA hybridization, along with PCR and DNA sequencing, were used to examine the occurrence, distribution, and genetic diversity of F-like plasmids among Salmonella strains. The F plasmid genes examined were finO, traD, traY, and repA, which map at dispersed positions on the F plasmid of E. coli. Comparative sequence analysis of each of the four genes in Salmonella plasmids showed them to be homologous (in some cases, virtually identical) to those found in F plasmids of E. coli natural isolates. Furthermore, the frequency of F-like plasmids in Salmonella strains was approximately the same as that observed in the E. coli Reference Collection. However, in Salmonella, the distribution was confined predominately to the serovars Typhimurium and Muenchen. The unexpected finding of a shared pool of F-like plasmids between S. enterica and E. coli demonstrates the significant role of conjugation in the histories of these important bacterial species.