Protein N-terminal methionine excision is an essential co-translational process that occurs in the cytoplasm of all organisms. About 60-70% of the newly synthesized proteins undergo this modification. Enzyme responsible for the removal of initiator methionine is methionine aminopeptidase (MetAP), which is a dinuclear metalloprotease. This protein is conserved through all forms of life from bacteria to human except viruses. MetAP is classified into two isoforms, Type I and II. Removal of the map gene or chemical inhibition is lethal to bacteria and to human cell lines, suggesting that MetAP could be a good drug target. In the present study we describe the discovery of a new genetic variant of the Type I MetAP that is present predominantly in the streptococci bacteria. There are two inserts (insert one: 27 amino acids and insert two: four residues) within the catalytic domain. Possible glycosylation and phosphorylation posttranslational modification sites are identified in the ‘insert one’. Biochemical characterization suggests that this enzyme behaves similar to other MetAPs in terms of substrate specificity. Crystal structure Type Ia MetAP from Streptococcus pneumoniae (SpMetAP1a) revealed that it contains two molecules in the asymmetric unit and well ordered inserts with structural features that corroborate the possible posttranslational modification. Both the new inserts found in the SpMetAP1a structurally align with the P-X-X-P motif found in the M. tuberculosis and human Type I MetAPs as well as the 60 amino acid insert in the human Type II enzyme suggesting possible common function. In addition, one of the β-hairpins within in the catalytic domain undergoes a flip placing a residue which is essential for enzyme activity away from the active site and the β-hairpin loop of this secondary structure in the active site obstructing substrate binding. This is the first example of a MetAP crystallizing in the inactive form.
Competence for genetic transformation in Streptococcus pneumoniae has previously been described as a quorum-sensing trait regulated by a secreted peptide pheromone. Recently we demonstrated that competence is also activated by reduction in the accuracy of protein biosynthesis. We have now investigated whether errors upstream of translation in the form of random genomic mutations can provide a similar stimulus. Here we show that generation of a mutator phenotype in S. pneumoniae through deletions of mutX, hexA or hexB enhanced the expression of competence. Similarly, chemical mutagenesis with the nucleotide analog dPTP promoted development of competence. To investigate the relationship between mutational load and the activation of competence, replicate lineages of the mutX strain were serially passaged under conditions of relaxed selection allowing random accumulation of secondary mutations. Competence increased with propagation in these lineages but not in control lineages having wild-type mutX. Resequencing of these derived strains revealed between 1 and 9 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) per lineage, which were broadly distributed across the genome and did not involve known regulators of competence. Notably, the frequency of competence development among the sequenced strains correlated significantly with the number of nonsynonymous mutations that had been acquired. Together, these observations provide support for the hypothesis that competence in S. pneumoniae is regulated in response to the accumulated burden of coding mutations in the bacterial genome. In contrast to previously described DNA damage response systems that are activated by physical lesions in the chromosome, this pneumococcal pathway may represent a unique stress response system that monitors the coding integrity of the genome.
ClpL, a member of the HSP100 family, is widely distributed in Gram-positive bacteria but is absent in Gram-negative bacteria. Although ClpL is involved in various cellular processes, such as the stress tolerance response, long-term survival, virulence, and antibiotic resistance, the detailed molecular mechanisms are largely unclear. Here we report that ClpL acts as a chaperone to properly fold CtsR, a stress response repressor, and prevents it from forming protein aggregates in Streptococcus mutans. In vitro, ClpL was able to successfully refold urea-denatured CtsR but not aggregated proteins. We suggest that ClpL recognizes primarily soluble but denatured substrates and prevents the formation of large protein aggregates. We also found that in vivo, the C-terminal D2-small domain of ClpL is essential for the observed chaperone activity. Since ClpL widely contributes to various cellular functions, we speculate that ClpL chaperone activity is necessary to maintain cellular homeostasis.
Streptococcus suis (S.suis) is an important emerging worldwide pig pathogen and zoonotic agent with rapid evolution of virulence and drug resistance. In this study, we wanted to investigate the effect of licochalcone A on growth and properties of Streptococcus suis. The antimicrobial activity of licochalcone A was tested by growth inhibition assay and the minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) also were determined. The effect of licochalcone A on S.suis biofilm formation was characterized by crystal violet staining. The effect of licochalcone A on suilysin secretion was evaluated by titration of hemolytic activity. To understand the antimicrobial effect, gene expression profile of S.suis treated by licochalcone A was analyzed by DNA microarray. Our results demonstrated that licochalcone A showed antimicrobial activity on S.suis with MICs of 4 µg/ml for S.suis serotype 2 strains and 8 µg/ml for S.suis serotype 7 strains. Biofilm formation was inhibited by 30–40% in the presence of licochalcone A (3 µg/ml) and suilysin secretion was also significantly inhibited in the presence of licochalcone A (1.5 µg/ml). The gene expression profile of S.suis in the presence of licochalcone A showed that 132 genes were differentially regulated, and we analyzed the regulated genes in the aspect of the bacterial cell cycle control. Among the deregulated genes, the genes responsible for the mass doubling was increased expression, but the genes responsible for DNA replication and cell division were inhibited the expression. So, we think the regulation of the cell cycle genes might provide a mechanistic understanding of licochalcone A mediated antimicrobial effect against S.suis.
Streptococcus pseudopneumoniae (SPPN) is a recently described species of the viridans group streptococci (VGS). Although the pathogenic potential of S. pseudopneumoniae remains uncertain, it is most commonly isolated from patients with underlying medical conditions, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. S. pseudopneumoniae can be distinguished from the closely related species, S. pneumoniae and S. mitis, by phenotypic characteristics, including optochin resistance in the presence of 5% CO2, bile insolubility, and the lack of the pneumococcal capsule. Previously, we reported the draft genome sequence of S. pseudopneumoniae IS7493, a clinical isolate obtained from an immunocompromised patient with documented pneumonia. Here, we use comparative genomics approaches to identify similarities and key differences between S. pseudopneumoniae IS7493, S. pneumoniae and S. mitis. The genome structure of S. pseudopneumoniae IS7493 is most closely related to that of S. pneumoniae R6, but several recombination events are evident. Analysis of gene content reveals numerous unique features that distinguish S. pseudopneumoniae from other streptococci. The presence of loci for competence, iron transport, pneumolysin production and antimicrobial resistance reinforce the phylogenetic position of S. pseudopneumoniae as an intermediate species between S. pneumoniae and S. mitis. Additionally, the presence of several virulence factors and antibiotic resistance mechanisms suggest the potential of this commensal species to become pathogenic or to contribute to increasing antibiotic resistance levels seen among the VGS.
The commensal Streptococcus gordonii expresses numerous surface adhesins with which it interacts with other microorganisms, host cells and salivary proteins to initiate dental plaque formation. However, this Gram-positive bacterium can also spread to non-oral sites such as the heart valves and cause infective endocarditis. One of its surface adhesins, Sgo0707, is a large protein composed of a non-repetitive N-terminal region followed by several C-terminal repeat domains and a cell wall sorting motif. Here we present the crystal structure of the Sgo0707 N-terminal domains, refined to 2.1 Å resolution. The model consists of two domains, N1 and N2. The largest domain, N1, comprises a putative binding cleft with a single cysteine located in its centre and exhibits an unexpected structural similarity to the variable domains of the streptococcal Antigen I/II adhesins. The N2-domain has an IgG-like fold commonly found among Gram-positive surface adhesins. Binding studies performed on S. gordonii wild-type and a Sgo0707 deficient mutant show that the Sgo0707 adhesin is involved in binding to type-1 collagen and to oral keratinocytes.
Cell-cell communication in Gram-positive bacteria often depends on the production of extracellular peptides. The cariogenic bacterium Streptococcus mutans employs so-called competence-stimulating peptide (CSP) to stimulate mutacin (bacteriocin) production and competence development through the activation of the ComDE two-component pathway. In S. mutans, CSP is secreted as a 21-residue peptide; however, mass spectrometric analysis of culture supernatant indicates the presence of an 18-residue proteolytically cleaved species. In this study, using a transposon mutagenesis screening, we identified a cell surface protease that is involved in the processing of 21-residue CSP to generate the 18-residue CSP. We named this protease SepM for streptococcal extracellular protease required for mutacin production. We showed that the truncated 18-residue peptide is the biologically active form and that the specific postexport cleavage is a prerequisite to activate the ComDE two-component signal transduction pathway. We also showed that the CSP and the mutacins are exported outside the cell by the same ABC transporter, NlmTE. Our study further confirmed that the ComDE two-component system is absolutely necessary for mutacin production in S. mutans.
Toxic epidermal necrolysis is the life-threatening dermatological emergency, most often an adverse cutaneous drug reaction with high mortality. A 6-month prospective study was conducted in our institution to find out the offending drugs, to assess the prognosis on admission using SCORTEN: Severity of illness score and to find out the treatment outcome. Anticonvulsants, NSAIDs and sulphonamides are the common offending agents; but in our study, 2 were due to homeopathic medicines. Out of 20 patients, on the date of admission SCORTEN prognostic score was 2 in 11 patients, 3 in 8 patients and 4 in 1 patient. Eighteen patients were treated with dexamethasone intramuscular injection and 2 patients got intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG). All patients survived without any mortality. Though improvement was slightly faster with IVIG, early administration of corticosteroids was also of encouraging efficacy and should be considered in developing countries due to low cost. No mortality in our study suggests need to validate the SCORTEN index in our country in a large number of patients.
SCORTEN; treatment outcome; toxic epidermal necrolysis
Extracellular DNA (eDNA) is an important component of the biofilm matrix produced by many bacteria. In general, the release of eDNA is associated with the activity of muralytic enzymes leading to obvious cell lysis. In the Gram-positive oral commensal Streptococcus gordonii, eDNA release is dependent on pyruvate oxidase generated hydrogen peroxide (H2O2). Addition of H2O2 to cells grown under conditions non-permissive for H2O2 production causes eDNA release. Furthermore, eDNA release is maximal under aerobic growth conditions known to induce pyruvate oxidase gene expression and H2O2 production. Obvious cell lysis, however, does not occur. Two enzymes have been recently associated with eDNA release in S. gordonii. The autolysin AtlS and the competence regulated murein hydrolase LytF. In the present report, we investigated the role of both proteins in the H2O2 dependent eDNA release process. Single and double mutants in the respective genes for LytF and AtlS released less eDNA under normal growth conditions, but the AtlS mutant was still inducible for eDNA release by external H2O2. Moreover, we showed that the AtlS mutation interfered with the ability of S. gordonii to produce eDNA release inducing amounts of H2O2. Our data support a role of LytF in the H2O2 eDNA dependent release of S. gordonii as part of the competence stress pathway responding to oxidative stress.
The Streptococcus pyogenes transcriptional regulator Rgg controls the expression of virulence-associated genes encoded both within the core genome and within horizontally transmissible DNA such as temperate bacteriophage. Previously, we showed that Rgg binds to the non-coding DNA upstream of the bacteriophage gene encoding an extracellular DNase Spd-3. In the current study, we further characterized Rgg-mediated regulation of spd-3 expression. Two spd-3 transcripts were identified by northern blotting. The 5′ ends were 27 and 594 nucleotides upstream of the start codon as determined with primer extension analysis and 5′ RACE (rapid amplification of c-DNA ends), respectively. Results obtained with gel shift assays showed that purified Rgg bound specifically to non-coding DNA containing the promoters of both transcripts. Transcriptional fusion analyses confirmed the presence of Rgg-repressible promoters within these DNA regions. In addition, repression was associated with direct DNA binding by Rgg as determined with chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) coupled with quantitative PCR (qPCR). The results show that the chromosomally encoded transcriptional regulator, Rgg, directly represses both bacteriophage promoters controlling the expression of Spd-3. The results provide new information regarding the regulation of prophage encoded virulence factors of S. pyogenes and highlight the complex evolutionary history of S. pyogenes and temperate bacteriophage.
High coverage, whole genome shotgun (WGS) sequencing of 57 geographically- and genetically-diverse isolates of Streptococcus mutans from individuals of known dental caries status was recently completed. Of the 57 sequenced strains, fifteen isolates, were selected based primarily on differences in gene content and phenotypic characteristics known to affect virulence and compared with the reference strain UA159. A high degree of variability in these properties was observed between strains, with a broad spectrum of sensitivities to low pH, oxidative stress (air and paraquat) and exposure to competence stimulating peptide (CSP). Significant differences in autolytic behavior and in biofilm development in glucose or sucrose were also observed. Natural genetic competence varied among isolates, and this was correlated to the presence or absence of competence genes, comCDE and comX, and to bacteriocins. In general strains that lacked the ability to become competent possessed fewer genes for bacteriocins and immunity proteins or contained polymorphic variants of these genes. WGS sequence analysis of the pan-genome revealed, for the first time, components of a Type VII secretion system in several S. mutans strains, as well as two putative ORFs that encode possible collagen binding proteins located upstream of the cnm gene, which is associated with host cell invasiveness. The virulence of these particular strains was assessed in a wax-worm model. This is the first study to combine a comprehensive analysis of key virulence-related phenotypes with extensive genomic analysis of a pathogen that evolved closely with humans. Our analysis highlights the phenotypic diversity of S. mutans isolates and indicates that the species has evolved a variety of adaptive strategies to persist in the human oral cavity and, when conditions are favorable, to initiate disease.
A bacterial transcriptome of the primary etiological agent of human dental caries, Streptococcus mutans, is described here using deep RNA sequencing. Differential expression profiles of the transcriptome in the context of carbohydrate source, and of the presence or absence of the catabolite control protein CcpA, revealed good agreement with previously-published DNA microarrays. In addition, RNA-seq considerably expanded the repertoire of DNA sequences that showed statistically-significant changes in expression as a function of the presence of CcpA and growth carbohydrate. Novel mRNAs and small RNAs were identified, some of which were differentially expressed in conditions tested in this study, suggesting that the function of the S. mutans CcpA protein and the influence of carbohydrate sources has a more substantial impact on gene regulation than previously appreciated. Likewise, the data reveal that the mechanisms underlying prioritization of carbohydrate utilization are more diverse than what is currently understood. Collectively, this study demonstrates the validity of RNA-seq as a potentially more-powerful alternative to DNA microarrays in studying gene regulation in S. mutans because of the capacity of this approach to yield a more precise landscape of transcriptomic changes in response to specific mutations and growth conditions.
Streptococcus mutans, a principal causative agent of dental caries, is considered to be the most cariogenic among all oral streptococci. Of the four S. mutans serotypes (c, e, f, and k), serotype c strains predominate in the oral cavity. Here, we present the complete genome sequence of S. mutans GS-5, a serotype c strain originally isolated from human carious lesions, which is extensively used as a laboratory strain worldwide.
Acidogenicity and aciduricity are the main virulence factors of the cavity-causing bacterium Streptococcus mutans. Monitoring at the individual cell level the temporal and spatial distribution of acid produced by this important oral pathogen is central for our understanding of these key virulence factors especially when S. mutans resides in multi-species microbial communities. In this study, we explored the application of pH-sensitive green fluorescent proteins (pHluorins) to investigate these important features. Ecliptic pHluorin was functionally displayed on the cell surface of S. mutans as a fusion protein with SpaP. The resulting strain (O87) was used to monitor temporal and spatial pH changes in the microenvironment of S. mutans cells under both planktonic and biofilm conditions. Using strain O87, we revealed a rapid pH drop in the microenviroment of S. mutans microcolonies prior to the decrease in the macro-environment pH following sucrose fermentation. Meanwhile, a non-uniform pH distribution was observed within S. mutans biofilms, reflecting differences in microbial metabolic activity. Furthermore, strain O87 was successfully used to monitor the S. mutans acid production profiles within dual- and multispecies oral biofilms. Based on these findings, the ecliptic pHluorin allows us to investigate in vivo and in situ acid production and distribution by the cariogenic species S. mutans.
Streptococci resident in the oral cavity have been linked to infective endocarditis (IE). While other viridans streptococci are commonly studied in relation to IE, less research has been focused on Streptococcus pneumoniae. We established for the first time an animal model of S. pneumoniae IE, and examined the virulence of the TIGR4 strain in this model. We hypothesized that two-component systems (TCS) may mediate S. pneumoniae TIGR4 strain virulence in IE and examined TCS response regulator (RR) mutants of TIGR4 in vivo with the IE model. Thirteen of the 14 RR protein genes were mutagenized, excluding only the essential gene SP_1227. The requirement of the 13 RRs for S. pneumoniae competitiveness in the IE model was assessed in vivo through use of quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR) and competitive index assays. Using real-time PCR, several RR mutants were detected at significantly lower levels in infected heart valves compared with a control strain suggesting the respective RRs are candidate virulence factors for IE. The virulence reduction of the ΔciaR mutant was further confirmed by competitive index assay. Our data suggest that CiaR is a virulence factor of S. pneumoniae strain TIGR4 for IE.
Toxin-antitoxin (TA) modules consist of a pair of genes that encode two components: a protein toxin and an antitoxin, which may be in the form of either a labile protein or an antisense small RNA. Here we describe, to the best of our knowledge, the first functional chromosomal type I TA system in streptococci. Our model organism is the oral pathogen Streptococcus mutans. Our results showed that the genome of S. mutans UA159 reference strain harbors a previously unannotated Fst-like toxin (Fst-Sm) and its cis-encoded small RNA antitoxin (srSm) converging towards the end of the toxin gene in IGR176, a small intergenic region of 318 nt. Fst-Sm is a small hydrophobic peptide of 32 amino acid residues with homology to the Fst toxin family. Transcripts of ∼200 nt and ∼70 nt specific to fst-Sm mRNA and srSm RNA, respectively, were detected by Northern blot analysis throughout S. mutans growth. The toxin mRNA was considerably more stable than its cognate antitoxin. The half-life of srSm RNA was determined to be ∼30 min, while fst-Sm mRNA had a half-life of ∼90 min. Both fst-Sm and srSm RNAs were transcribed across direct tandem repeats providing a region of complementarity for inhibition of toxin translation. Overproduction of Fst-Sm had a toxic effect on E. coli and S. mutans cells which can be neutralized by coexpression of srSm RNA. Deletion of fst-Sm/srSm locus or overexpression of Fst-Sm/srSm had no effect on S. mutans cell growth in liquid medium and no differences in the total biofilm biomass were noted. In contrast, mild-overproduction of Fst-Sm/srSm type I TA system decreases the levels of persister cells tolerant to bacterial cell wall synthesis inhibitors.
Streptococcus mutans, a principal causative agent of dental caries, secretes antimicrobial peptides known as mutacins to suppress the growth of competing species to establish a successful colonization. S. mutans UA159, a sequenced strain, produces at least two major mutacins, mutacins IV and V. Mutacin IV is a two-peptide mutacin encoded by nlmAB genes, which are mapped just upstream of a putative immunity-encoding gene SMU.152. Here we explored the function of SMU.152 as an immunity protein. We observed that overexpression of SMU.152 in two sensitive host strains converted the strains to become immune to mutacin IV. To identify the residues that are important for immunity function, we sequentially deleted residues from the C-terminal region of SMU.152. We observed that deletion of as few as seven amino acids, all of which are highly charged (KRRSKNK), drastically reduced the immunity function of the protein. Furthermore, we identified two other putative immunity proteins, SMU.1909 and SMU.925, which lack the last four charged residues (SKNK) that are present in SMU.152 but contain the KRR residues. Synthetic addition of SKNK residues to either SMU.1909 or SMU.925 to reconstitute the KRRSKNK motif and expressing these constructs in sensitive cells rendered the cells resistant to mutacin IV. We also demonstrated that deletion of Man-PTS system from a sensitive strain made the cells partially resistant to mutacin IV, indicating that the Man-PTS system plays a role in mutacin IV recognition.
The genome of Lactococcus lactis strain IL1403 harbors a putative pilus biogenesis cluster consisting of a sortase C gene flanked by 3 LPxTG protein encoding genes (yhgD, yhgE, and yhhB), called here pil. However, pili were not detected under standard growth conditions. Over-expression of the pil operon resulted in production and display of pili on the surface of lactococci. Functional analysis of the pilus biogenesis machinery indicated that the pilus shaft is formed by oligomers of the YhgE pilin, that the pilus cap is formed by the YhgD pilin and that YhhB is the basal pilin allowing the tethering of the pilus fibers to the cell wall. Oligomerization of pilin subunits was catalyzed by sortase C while anchoring of pili to the cell wall was mediated by sortase A. Piliated L. lactis cells exhibited an auto-aggregation phenotype in liquid cultures, which was attributed to the polymerization of major pilin, YhgE. The piliated lactococci formed thicker, more aerial biofilms compared to those produced by non-piliated bacteria. This phenotype was attributed to oligomers of YhgE. This study provides the first dissection of the pilus biogenesis machinery in a non-pathogenic Gram-positive bacterium. Analysis of natural lactococci isolates from clinical and vegetal environments showed pili production under standard growth conditions. The identification of functional pili in lactococci suggests that the changes they promote in aggregation and biofilm formation may be important for the natural lifestyle as well as for applications in which these bacteria are used.
Streptococcus suis serotype 2 (SS2), a major swine pathogen and an emerging zoonotic agent, has greatly challenged global public health. The encoding proteins with unknown functions the bacterium encodes are an obstruction to studies of the pathogenesis. A novel surface protective antigen HP0197 is one of these proteins which have no sequence homology to any known protein. In the present study, the protein was determined to be involved in bacterial virulence through an evaluation of the isogenic mutant (Δhp0197) in both mice and pigs. The experimental infection also indicated that Δhp0197 could be cleared easily during infection, which could be attributed to the reduced thickness of the capsular polysaccharides (CPS) and the significantly reduced phagocytotic resistance. Microarrays-based comparative transcriptome analysis suggested that the suppressed expression of the operon responsible for CPS synthesis might be reversed by CcpA activity, which controlled global regulation of carbon catabolite through the binding of the CcpA and HPr-Ser-46-P to the catabolite-responsive elements (cre) of the target operons. The hypothesis was approved by the fact that the purified FLAG-tagged HPr from WT stain exhibited a higher binding activity to cre with CcpA compared to the Δhp0197 by the Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay, suggesting lower level of phosphorylation of the phosphocarrier protein HPr at residue Ser-46 (HPr-Ser-46P) in Δhp0197. These indicated that HP0197 could enhance CcpA activity to control the expression of genes involved in carbohydrate utilization and CPS synthesis, thus contributing to the virulence of S. suis.
Genetic exchanges between Streptococci occur frequently and contribute to their genome diversification. Most of sequenced streptococcal genomes carry multiple mobile genetic elements including Integrative and Conjugative Elements (ICEs) that play a major role in these horizontal gene transfers. In addition to genes involved in their mobility and regulation, ICEs also carry genes that can confer selective advantages to bacteria. Numerous elements have been described in S. agalactiae especially those integrated at the 3′ end of a tRNALys encoding gene. In strain 515 of S. agalactiae, an invasive neonate human pathogen, the ICE (called 515_tRNALys) is functional and carries different putative virulence genes including one encoding a putative new CAMP factor in addition to the one previously described. This work demonstrated the functionality of this CAMP factor (CAMP factor II) in Lactococcus lactis but also in pathogenic strains of veterinary origin. The search for co-hemolytic factors in a collection of field strains revealed their presence in S. uberis, S. dysgalactiae, but also for the first time in S. equisimilis and S. bovis. Sequencing of these genes revealed the prevalence of a species-specific factor in S. uberis strains (Uberis factor) and the presence of a CAMP factor II encoding gene in S. bovis and S. equisimilis. Furthermore, most of the CAMP factor II positive strains also carried an element integrated in the tRNALys gene. This work thus describes a CAMP factor that is carried by a mobile genetic element and has spread to different streptococcal species.
Gram-positive bacteria assemble pili through class C sortase enzymes specialized in polymerizing pilin subunits into covalently linked, high-molecular-weight, elongated structures. Here we report the crystal structures of two class C sortases (SrtC1 and SrtC2) from Group B Streptococcus (GBS) Pilus Island 1. The structures show that both sortases are comprised of two domains: an 8-stranded β-barrel catalytic core conserved among all sortase family members and a flexible N-terminal region made of two α-helices followed by a loop, known as the lid, which acts as a pseudo-substrate. In vitro experiments performed with recombinant SrtC enzymes lacking the N-terminal portion demonstrate that this region of the enzyme is dispensable for catalysis but may have key roles in substrate specificity and regulation. Moreover, in vitro FRET-based assays show that the LPXTG motif common to many sortase substrates is not the sole determinant of sortase C specificity during pilin protein recognition.
Until now, peptidoglycan O-acetyl transferases (Oat) were only described for their peptidoglycan O-acetylating activity and for their implication in the control of peptidoglycan hydrolases. In this study, we show that a Lactobacillus plantarum mutant lacking OatA is unable to uncouple cell elongation and septation. Wild-type cells showed an elongation arrest during septation while oatA mutant cells continued to elongate at a constant rate without any observable pause during the cell division process. Remarkably, this defect does not result from a default in peptidoglycan O-acetylation, since it can be rescued by wild-type OatA as well as by a catalytic mutant or a truncated variant containing only the transmembrane domain of the protein. Consistent with a potential involvement in division, OatA preferentially localizes at mid-cell before membrane invagination and remains at this position until the end of septation. Overexpression of oatA or its inactive variants induces septation-specific aberrations, including asymmetrical and dual septum formation. Overproduction of the division inhibitors, MinC or MinD, leads to cell filamentation in the wild type while curved and branched cells are observed in the oatA mutant, suggesting that the Min system acts differently on the division process in the absence of OatA. Altogether, the results suggest that OatA plays a key role in the spatio-temporal control of septation, irrespective of its catalytic activity.
In Streptococcus mutans, the global response regulator CovR plays an important role in biofilm formation, stress tolerance response, and caries production. We have previously demonstrated that CovR activates a large gene cluster, which is a part of a genomic island, TnSmu2. In this article, we have further characterized CovR at the molecular level to understand the gene activation mechanism. Toward this end, we mapped the transcription start site of the operon that lies upstream of the SMU.1348 gene (PSMU.1348), the first gene of the cluster. We constructed a transcriptional reporter fusion and showed that CovR induces expression from PSMU.1348. We also demonstrated that purified CovR protects the sequence surrounding the −10 region of PSMU.1348. In an in vitro transcription assay, we showed that histone-like protein (HLP), a homologue of Escherichia coli HU protein, represses transcription from PSMU.1348. In vivo overexpression of HLP in trans also represses transcription from PSMU.1348. Addition of CovR to the HLP-repressed PSMU.1348 resulted in increased transcription from the promoter, suggesting a role for CovR in countering HLP silencing. Moreover, addition of SMU.1349, a transcriptional activator of the operon, to the in vitro assay further stimulated the transcription. Based on our in vivo and in vitro results, we propose a model for transcriptional activation of the operon.
The Rex repressor has been implicated in regulation of central carbon and energy metabolism in Gram-positive bacteria. We have previously shown that Streptococcus mutans, the primary causative agent of dental caries, alters its transcriptome upon Rex-deficiency and renders S. mutans to have increased susceptibility to oxidative stress, aberrations in glucan production, and poor biofilm formation. In this study, we showed that rex in S. mutans is co-transcribed as an operon with downstream guaA, encoding a putative glutamine amidotransferase. Electrophoretic mobility shift assays showed that recombinant Rex bound promoters of target genes avidly and specifically, including those down-regulated in response to Rex-deficiency, and that the ability of recombinant Rex to bind to selected promoters was modulated by NADH and NAD+. Results suggest that Rex in S. mutans can function as an activator in response to intracellular NADH/NAD+ level, although the exact binding site for activator Rex remains unclear. Consistent with a role in oxidative stress tolerance, hydrogen peroxide challenge assays showed that the Rex-deficient mutant, TW239, and the Rex/GuaA double mutant, JB314, were more susceptible to hydrogen peroxide killing than the wildtype, UA159. Relative to UA159, JB314 displayed major defects in biofilm formation, with a decrease of more than 50-fold in biomass after 48-hours. Collectively, these results further suggest that Rex in S. mutans regulates fermentation pathways, oxidative stress tolerance, and biofilm formation in response to intracellular NADH/NAD+ level. Current effort is being directed to further investigation of the role of GuaA in S. mutans cellular physiology.
CtsR is an important repressor that modulates the transcription of class III stress genes in Gram-positive bacteria. In Bacillus subtilis, a model Gram-positive organism, the DNA binding activity of CtsR is regulated by McsAB-mediated phosphorylation of the protein where phosphorylated CtsR is a substrate for degradation by the ClpCP complex. Surprisingly, the mcsAB genes are absent from many Gram-positive bacteria, including streptococci; therefore, how CtsR activity is modulated in those bacteria remains unknown. Here we show that the posttranslational modulation of CtsR activity is different in Streptococcus mutans, a dental pathogen. We observed that of all of the Clp-related proteins, only ClpL is involved in the degradation of CtsR. Neither ClpP nor ClpC had any effect on the degradation of CtsR. We also found that phosphorylation of CtsR on a conserved arginine residue within the winged helix-turn-helix domain is necessary for modulation of the repressor activity of CtsR, as demonstrated by both in vitro and in vivo assays. We speculate that CtsR is regulated posttranslationally by a different mechanism in S. mutans and possibly in other streptococci.