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1.  Functional Analysis of Pneumococcal Drug Efflux Pumps Associates the MATE DinF Transporter with Quinolone Susceptibility 
The pneumococcal chromosome encodes about 140 transporters, many of which are predicted to be involved in efflux. In order to critically evaluate pneumococcal efflux, a series of transporter mutants were constructed, and their phenotypes were assayed by disk diffusion, microdilution drug susceptibility testing (MIC testing), growth of cultures at sub-MIC concentrations, and phenotype microarray analysis. Mutants with mutations in seven ATP binding cassette (ABC) transporters, three multiantimicrobial extrusion (MATE) family efflux pumps, and one major facilitator superfamily (MFS) transporter were obtained in Streptococcus pneumoniae strain DP1004. The susceptibility of these 11 mutants to over 250 different substances was compared to that of the parent strain. Of the tested transporters, only the ABC transporter PatAB (SP2073-5) presented a clear multidrug resistance (MDR) profile, as the mutant showed significantly increased susceptibility to ethidium bromide, acriflavine, and berberine. Among the other transporters analyzed, the mutants devoid of the MATE efflux pump SP2065 exhibited reduced susceptibility to novobiocin, and those with mutations of the MATE family DinF transport system (SP1939) exhibited increased susceptibility to moxifloxacin, ciprofloxacin, and levofloxacin. This change in quinolone MIC was found to be independent from the competence-mediated effect of quinolones on the cinA-recA-dinF operon. Furthermore, the dinF mutant, in contrast to the parental strain, allowed selection for quinolone-resistant mutants when exposed to moxifloxacin. These data confirm the clear MDR profile of the PatAB ABC transporter and suggest for the MATE DinF a phenotype associated with quinolone susceptibility, particularly for moxifloxacin.
PMCID: PMC3535946  PMID: 23114782
2.  A Non-Linear Deterministic Model for Regulation of Diauxic Lag on Cellobiose by the Pneumococcal Multidomain Transcriptional Regulator CelR 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47393.
When grown on glucose and beta-glucosides, S. pneumoniae shows sequential use of sugars resulting in diauxic growth with variable time extent of the lag phase separating the biphasic growth curve. The pneumococcal beta-glucoside uptake locus containing the PTS transporter spr0276-82, is regulated by a multi-domain transcriptional regulator CelR. In this work, we address the contribution of phosphorylation of the phosphorylable cysteine in the EIIB domain of CelR to diauxic lag. Utilising site-directed mutagenesis of the phosphorylable amino acids in the EIIB and EIIA domains of CelR, we show that the EIIB domain activation is linked to the duration of the lag phase. Analysis of mutants for other PTS systems indicates that a second beta-glucoside PTS (spr0505), not able to support growth on cellobiose, is responsible for the lag during diauxic growth. A mathematical model of the process is devised together with a nonlinear identification procedure which provides model parameter estimates characterizing the single phases of bacterial growth. Parameter identification performed on data recorded in appropriate experiments on mutants allows for establishing a relationship between a specific model parameter, the EIIB domain and the time extent of the diauxic lag. The experimental results and the related insights provided by the mathematical model provide evidence that the conflicting activation of the CelR regulator is at the origin of the lag phase during sequential growth on glucose and cellobiose. This data is the first description of diauxic lag regulation involving two PTS and a multidomain regulator and could serve as a promising approach for studying the S. pneumoniae growth process on complex carbon sources as possibly encountered in the human host.
PMCID: PMC3478281  PMID: 23110070
3.  Regulation of neuraminidase expression in Streptococcus pneumoniae 
BMC Microbiology  2012;12:200.
Sialic acid (N-acetylneuraminic acid; NeuNAc) is one of the most important carbohydrates for Streptococcus pneumoniae due of its role as a carbon and energy source, receptor for adhesion and invasion and molecular signal for promotion of biofilm formation, nasopharyngeal carriage and invasion of the lung.
In this work, NeuNAc and its metabolic derivative N-acetyl mannosamine (ManNAc) were used to analyze regulatory mechanisms of the neuraminidase locus expression. Genomic and metabolic comparison to Streptococcus mitis, Streptococcus oralis, Streptococcus gordonii and Streptococcus sanguinis elucidates the metabolic association of the two amino sugars to different parts of the locus coding for the two main pneumococcal neuraminidases and confirms the substrate specificity of the respective ABC transporters. Quantitative gene expression analysis shows repression of the locus by glucose and induction of all predicted transcriptional units by ManNAc and NeuNAc, each inducing with higher efficiency the operon encoding for the transporter with higher specificity for the respective amino sugar. Cytofluorimetric analysis demonstrated enhanced surface exposure of NanA on pneumococci grown in NeuNAc and ManNAc and an activity assay allowed to quantify approximately twelve times as much neuraminidase activity on induced cells as opposed to glucose grown cells.
The present data increase the understanding of metabolic regulation of the nanAB locus and indicate that experiments aimed at the elucidation of the relevance of neuraminidases in pneumococcal virulence should possibly not be carried out on bacteria grown in glucose containing media.
PMCID: PMC3509027  PMID: 22963456
Sialic acid; Metabolic regulation; Carbon catabolite repression
4.  A Functional Genomics Approach to Establish the Complement of Carbohydrate Transporters in Streptococcus pneumoniae 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33320.
The aerotolerant anaerobe Streptococcus pneumoniae is part of the normal nasopharyngeal microbiota of humans and one of the most important invasive pathogens. A genomic survey allowed establishing the occurrence of twenty-one phosphotransferase systems, seven carbohydrate uptake ABC transporters, one sodium∶solute symporter and a permease, underlining an exceptionally high capacity for uptake of carbohydrate substrates. Despite high genomic variability, combined phenotypic and genomic analysis of twenty sequenced strains did assign the substrate specificity only to two uptake systems. Systematic analysis of mutants for most carbohydrate transporters enabled us to assign a phenotype and substrate specificity to twenty-three transport systems. For five putative transporters for galactose, pentoses, ribonucleosides and sulphated glycans activity was inferred, but not experimentally confirmed and only one transport system remains with an unknown substrate and lack of any functional annotation. Using a metabolic approach, 80% of the thirty-two fermentable carbon substrates were assigned to the corresponding transporter. The complexity and robustness of sugar uptake is underlined by the finding that many transporters have multiple substrates, and many sugars are transported by more than one system. The present work permits to draw a functional map of the complete arsenal of carbohydrate utilisation proteins of pneumococci, allows re-annotation of genomic data and might serve as a reference for related species. These data provide tools for specific investigation of the roles of the different carbon substrates on pneumococcal physiology in the host during carriage and invasive infection.
PMCID: PMC3302838  PMID: 22428019

Results 1-4 (4)