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1.  Hemin Binding Protein C Is Found in Outer Membrane Vesicles and Protects Bartonella henselae against Toxic Concentrations of Hemin 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(3):929-942.
Bartonella species are Gram-negative, emerging bacterial pathogens found in two distinct environments. In the gut of the obligately hematophagous arthropod vector, bartonellae are exposed to concentrations of heme that are toxic to other bacteria. In the bloodstream of the mammalian host, access to heme and iron is severely restricted. Bartonellae have unusually high requirements for heme, which is their only utilizable source of iron. Although heme is essential for Bartonella survival, little is known about genes involved in heme acquisition and detoxification. We developed a strategy for high-efficiency transposon mutagenesis to screen for genes in B. henselae heme binding and uptake pathways. We identified a B. henselae transposon mutant that constitutively expresses the hemin binding protein C (hbpC) gene. In the wild-type strain, transcription of B. henselae hbpC was upregulated at arthropod temperature (28°C), compared to mammalian temperature (37°C). In the mutant strain, temperature-dependent regulation was absent. We demonstrated that HbpC binds hemin and localizes to the B. henselae outer membrane and outer membrane vesicles. Overexpression of hbpC in B. henselae increased resistance to heme toxicity, implicating HbpC in protection of B. henselae from the toxic levels of heme present in the gut of the arthropod vector. Experimental inoculation of cats with B. henselae strains demonstrated that both constitutive expression and deletion of hbpC affect the ability of B. henselae to infect the cat host. Modulation of hbpC expression appears to be a strategy employed by B. henselae to survive in the arthropod vector and the mammalian host.
PMCID: PMC3294634  PMID: 22232189
2.  Characterization of a Feedback-Resistant Mevalonate Kinase from the Archaeon Methanosarcina mazei▿ 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2011;77(21):7772-7778.
The mevalonate pathway is utilized for the biosynthesis of isoprenoids in many bacterial, eukaryotic, and archaeal organisms. Based on previous reports of its feedback inhibition, mevalonate kinase (MVK) may play an important regulatory role in the biosynthesis of mevalonate pathway-derived compounds. Here we report the purification, kinetic characterization, and inhibition analysis of the MVK from the archaeon Methanosarcina mazei. The inhibition of the M. mazei MVK by the following metabolites derived from the mevalonate pathway was explored: dimethylallyl diphosphate (DMAPP), geranyl pyrophosphate (GPP), farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP), isopentenyl monophosphate (IP), and diphosphomevalonate. M. mazei MVK was not inhibited by DMAPP, GPP, FPP, diphosphomevalonate, or IP, a proposed intermediate in an alternative isoprenoid pathway present in archaea. Our findings suggest that the M. mazei MVK represents a distinct class of mevalonate kinases that can be differentiated from previously characterized MVKs based on its inhibition profile.
PMCID: PMC3209144  PMID: 21908638
3.  Campylobacter jejuni Biofilms Up-Regulated in the Absence of the Stringent Response Utilize a Calcofluor White-Reactive Polysaccharide▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2007;190(3):1097-1107.
The enteric pathogen Campylobacter jejuni is a highly prevalent yet fastidious bacterium. Biofilms and surface polysaccharides participate in stress survival, transmission, and virulence in C. jejuni; thus, the identification and characterization of novel genes involved in each process have important implications for pathogenesis. We found that C. jejuni reacts with calcofluor white (CFW), indicating the presence of surface polysaccharides harboring β1-3 and/or β1-4 linkages. CFW reactivity increased with extended growth, under 42°C anaerobic conditions, and in a ΔspoT mutant defective for the stringent response (SR). Conversely, two newly isolated dim mutants exhibited diminished CFW reactivity as well as growth and serum sensitivity differences from the wild type. Genetic, biochemical, and nuclear magnetic resonance analyses suggested that differences in CFW reactivity between wild-type and ΔspoT and dim mutant strains were independent of well-characterized lipooligosaccharides, capsular polysaccharides, and N-linked polysaccharides. Targeted deletion of carB downstream of the dim13 mutation also resulted in CFW hyporeactivity, implicating a possible role for carbamoylphosphate synthase in the biosynthesis of this polysaccharide. Correlations between biofilm formation and production of the CFW-reactive polymer were demonstrated by crystal violet staining, scanning electron microscopy, and confocal microscopy, with the C. jejuni ΔspoT mutant being the first SR mutant in any bacterial species identified as up-regulating biofilms. Together, these results provide new insight into genes and processes important for biofilm formation and polysaccharide production in C. jejuni.
PMCID: PMC2223549  PMID: 17993532
4.  Helicobacter pylori Initiates the Stringent Response upon Nutrient and pH Downshift 
Journal of Bacteriology  2006;188(10):3726-3729.
Helicobacter pylori was previously reported to lack a stringent response. In contrast, we show that after nutrient downshift, H. pylori produced abundant ppGpp and less total RNA. pH downshift also caused (p)ppGpp accumulation. Our observations indicate that nutrient deprivation and acid shock activate the stringent response in H. pylori.
PMCID: PMC1482847  PMID: 16672627
5.  Mutations in rpoBC Suppress the Defects of a Sinorhizobium meliloti relA Mutant 
Journal of Bacteriology  2003;185(18):5602-5610.
The nitrogen-fixing symbiosis between Sinorhizobium meliloti and Medicago sativa requires complex physiological adaptation by both partners. One method by which bacteria coordinately control physiological adaptation is the stringent response, which is triggered by the presence of the nucleotide guanosine tetraphosphate (ppGpp). ppGpp, produced by the RelA enzyme, is thought to bind to and alter the ability of RNA polymerase (RNAP) to initiate and elongate transcription and affect the affinity of the core enzyme for various sigma factors. An S. meliloti relA mutant which cannot produce ppGpp was previously shown to be defective in the ability to form nodules. This mutant also overproduces a symbiotically necessary exopolysaccharide called succinoglycan (38). The work presented here encompasses the analysis of suppressor mutants, isolated from host plants, that suppress the symbiotic defects of the relA mutant. All suppressor mutations are extragenic and map to either rpoB or rpoC, which encode the β and β′ subunits of RNAP. Phenotypic, structural, and gene expression analyses reveal that suppressor mutants can be divided into two classes; one is specific in its effect on stringent response-regulated genes and shares striking similarity with suppressor mutants of Escherichia coli strains that lack ppGpp, and another reduces transcription of all genes tested in comparison to that in the relA parent strain. Our findings indicate that the ability to successfully establish symbiosis is tightly coupled with the bacteria's ability to undergo global physiological adjustment via the stringent response.
PMCID: PMC193748  PMID: 12949113

Results 1-5 (5)