Expression and physiological relevance of Agrobacterium tumefaciens phosphatidylcholine biosynthesis genes.

Microbial Biology, Ruhr-University Bochum, Bochum, Germany.
Journal of bacteriology (Impact Factor: 3.94). 11/2008; 191(1):365-74. DOI: 10.1128/JB.01183-08
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Phosphatidylcholine (PC), or lecithin, is the major phospholipid in eukaryotic membranes, whereas only 10% of all bacteria are predicted to synthesize PC. In Rhizobiaceae, including the phytopathogenic bacterium Agrobacterium tumefaciens, PC is essential for the establishment of a successful host-microbe interaction. A. tumefaciens produces PC via two alternative pathways, the methylation pathway and the Pcs pathway. The responsible genes, pmtA (coding for a phospholipid N-methyltransferase) and pcs (coding for a PC synthase), are located on the circular chromosome of A. tumefaciens C58. Recombinant expression of pmtA and pcs in Escherichia coli revealed that the individual proteins carry out the annotated enzyme functions. Both genes and a putative ABC transporter operon downstream of PC are constitutively expressed in A. tumefaciens. The amount of PC in A. tumefaciens membranes reaches around 23% of total membrane lipids. We show that PC is distributed in both the inner and outer membranes. Loss of PC results in reduced motility and increased biofilm formation, two processes known to be involved in virulence. Our work documents the critical importance of membrane lipid homeostasis for diverse cellular processes in A. tumefaciens.

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    ABSTRACT: Many cellular processes critically depend on the membrane composition. In this review, we focus on the biosynthesis and physiological roles of membrane lipids in the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens. The major components of A. tumefaciens membranes are the phospholipids (PLs), phosphatidylethanolamine (PE), phosphatidylglycerol, phosphatidylcholine (PC) and cardiolipin, and ornithine lipids (OLs). Under phosphate-limited conditions, the membrane composition shifts to phosphate-free lipids like glycolipids, OLs and a betaine lipid. Remarkably, PC and OLs have opposing effects on virulence of A. tumefaciens. OL-lacking A. tumefaciens mutants form tumors on the host plant earlier than the wild type suggesting a reduced host defense response in the absence of OLs. In contrast, A. tumefaciens is compromised in tumor formation in the absence of PC. In general, PC is a rare component of bacterial membranes but amount to ~22% of all PLs in A. tumefaciens. PC biosynthesis occurs via two pathways. The phospholipid N-methyltransferase PmtA methylates PE via the intermediates monomethyl-PE and dimethyl-PE to PC. In the second pathway, the membrane-integral enzyme PC synthase (Pcs) condenses choline with CDP-diacylglycerol to PC. Apart from the virulence defect, PC-deficient A. tumefaciens pmtA and pcs double mutants show reduced motility, enhanced biofilm formation and increased sensitivity towards detergent and thermal stress. In summary, there is cumulative evidence that the membrane lipid composition of A. tumefaciens is critical for agrobacterial physiology and tumor formation.
    Frontiers in Plant Science 01/2014; 5:109. · 3.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Phosphatidycholine (PC) is the major membrane-forming phospholipid in eukaryotes but it has been found in only a limited number of prokaryotes. Bacteria synthesize PC via the phospholipid N-methylation pathway (Pmt) or via the phosphatidylcholine synthase pathway (Pcs) or both. Here, we demonstrated that Legionella dumoffii has the ability to utilize exogenous choline for phosphatidylcholine (PC) synthesis when bacteria grow in the presence of choline. The Pcs seems to be a primary pathway for synthesis of this phospholipid in L. dumoffii. Structurally different PC species were distributed in the outer and inner membranes. As shown by the LC/ESI-MS analyses, PC15:0/15:0, PC16:0/15:0, and PC17:0/17:1 were identified in the outer membrane and PC14:0/16:0, PC16:0/17:1, and PC20:0/15:0 in the inner membrane. L. dumoffii pcsA gene encoding phosphatidylcholine synthase revealed the highest sequence identity to pcsA of L. bozemanae (82%) and L. longbeachae (81%) and lower identity to pcsA of L. drancourtii (78%) and L. pneumophila (71%). The level of TNF-α in THP1-differentiated cells induced by live and temperature-killed L. dumoffii cultured on a medium supplemented with choline was assessed. Live L. dumoffii bacteria cultured on the choline-supplemented medium induced TNF-α three-fold less efficiently than cells grown on the non-supplemented medium. There is an evident effect of PC modification, which impairs the macrophage inflammatory response.
    International Journal of Molecular Sciences 01/2014; 15(5):8256-79. · 2.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Phosphatidylcholine (PC) is a rare membrane lipid in bacteria but crucial for virulence of the plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens and various other pathogens. A. tumefaciens uses two independent PC biosynthesis pathways. One is dependent on the integral membrane protein PC synthase (Pcs), which catalyzes the conversion of cytidine diphosphate-diacylglycerol (CDP-DAG) and choline to PC thereby releasing a cytidine monophosphate (CMP). Here we show that Pcs consists of eight transmembrane segments with its N- and C-termini located in the cytoplasm. A cytoplasmic loop between the second and third membrane helix contains the majority of conserved amino acids of a CDP-alcohol phosphotransferase motif (D-G-X2 -A-R-X12 -G-X3 -D-X3 -D). Using point mutagenesis we provide evidence for a crucial role of this motif in choline binding and enzyme activity. To study the catalytic features of the enzyme, we established a purification protocol for recombinant Pcs. The enzyme forms stable oligomers and exhibits broad substrate specificity towards choline derivatives. The presence of CDP-DAG and manganese is a prerequisite for cooperative binding of choline. PC formation by Pcs is reversible and proceeds via two successive reactions. In a first choline- and manganese-independent reaction, CDP-DAG is hydrolyzed releasing a CMP molecule. The resulting phosphatidyl intermediate reacts with choline in a second manganese-dependent step to form PC. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    FEBS Journal 06/2014; · 4.25 Impact Factor

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Meriyem Aktas