The stringent response of Bacillus anthracis contributes to sporulation but not to virulence.
ABSTRACT The Gram-positive, spore-forming pathogen Bacillus anthracis is the aetiological agent of anthrax. Its main virulence factors are two toxins and an anti-phagocytic capsule. When B. anthracis is grown in laboratory culture, the highest expression of the anthrax toxin genes occurs during entry into stationary phase, suggesting that nutrient limitation is an environmental cue which induces toxin production. A common bacterial response to starvation is the so-called stringent response, in which the hyperphosphorylated guanosine nucleotide (p)ppGpp is the effector molecule. In Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis and other bacteria, accumulation of this molecule leads to down-regulation of stable RNA synthesis and upregulation of the expression of genes involved in survival under nutrient-poor conditions. This study focuses on the stringent response of B. anthracis. We show that in B. anthracis the relA gene is responsible for the synthesis of (p)ppGpp and the stringent down-regulation of stable RNA synthesis upon starvation for the essential amino acids isoleucine, leucine and valine. The deletion of relA did not affect the expression of the virulence gene pagA or virulence in a mouse model of infection. In contrast, spore counts upon growth and sporulation in a defined medium were approximately 10,000-fold lower for the relA deletion mutant than for the parental strain. The contribution of the stringent response to efficient sporulation of B. anthracis is notable, as this suggests that the stringent response may contribute to the persistence of B. anthracis in the natural environment.
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ABSTRACT: RelA and SpoT synthesize ppGpp, a key effector molecule that facilitates the adaptation of bacteria to nutrient starvation and other stresses, known as the stringent response. To investigate the role of Rsh Bant , a putative RelA/SpoT homolog (encoded by BAS4302) in Bacillus anthracis, we examined the alteration of the secretome profiles after the overexpression of a functional His-Rsh Bant protein in the B. anthracis strain Sterne at the stationary growth phase. In the ppGpp-deficient E. coli mutant strain CF1693, overexpression of Rsh Bant restored a ppGpp-dependent growth defect on minimal glucose media. The secretome profiles obtained using a two-dimensional electrophoresis (2-DE) analysis were altered by overexpression of Rsh Bant in B. anthracis. Among the 66 protein spots differentially expressed >1.5-fold, the 29 proteins were abundant for further identification using matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS). Functional categorization of those proteins implicated their involvement in various biological activities. Taken together, our results imply that overexpression of a functional His-Rsh Bant can lead to the increased levels of intracellular ppGpp in B. anthracis, resulting in the significant changes in its secretome profiling. The stringent response-controlled proteins identified are likely useful as potential targets for serodiagnostic applications.Current Microbiology 05/2014; · 1.36 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Upon infection of a mammalian host, Bacillus anthracis responds to host cues, and particularly to elevated temperature (37[degree sign]C) and bicarbonate/CO2 concentrations, with increased expression of virulence factors that include the anthrax toxins and extracellular capsular layer. This response requires the presence of the pXO1 virulence plasmid-encoded pleiotropic regulator AtxA. To better understand the genetic basis of this response, we utilized a controlled in vitro system and Next Generation sequencing to determine and compare RNA expression profiles of the parental strain and an isogenic AtxA-deficient strain in a 2 x 2 factorial design with growth environments containing or lacking carbon dioxide. We found 15 pXO1-encoded genes and 3 chromosomal genes that were strongly regulated by the separate or synergistic actions of AtxA and carbon dioxide. The majority of the regulated genes responded to both AtxA and carbon dioxide rather than to just one of these factors. Interestingly, we identified two previously unrecognized small RNAs that are highly expressed under physiological carbon dioxide concentrations in an AtxA-dependent manner. Expression levels of the two small RNAs were found to be higher than that of any other gene differentially expressed in response to these conditions. Secondary structure and small RNA-mRNA binding predictions for the two small RNAs suggest that they may perform important functions in regulating B. anthracis virulence. A majority of genes on the virulence plasmid pXO1 that are regulated by the presence of either CO2 or AtxA separately are also regulated synergistically in the presence of both. These results also elucidate novel pXO1-encoded small RNAs that are associated with virulence conditions.BMC Genomics 03/2014; 15(1):229. · 4.04 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Spx of Bacillus subtilis is a redox-sensitive protein, which, under disulfide stress, interacts with RNA polymerase to activate genes required for maintaining thiol homeostasis. Spx orthologs are highly conserved among low %GC Gram-positive bacteria, and often exist in multiple paralogous forms. In this study, we used B. anthracis Sterne, which harbors two paralogous spx genes, spxA1 and spxA2, to examine the phenotypes of spx null mutations and to identify the genes regulated by each Spx paralog. Cells devoid of spxA1 were sensitive to diamide and hydrogen peroxide, while the spxA1 spoxA2 double mutant was hypersensitive to the thiol-specific oxidant, diamide. Bacillus anthracis Sterne strains expressing spxA1DD or spxA2DD alleles encoding protease-resistant products were used in microarray and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) analyses in order to uncover genes under SpxA1, SpxA2, or SpxA1/SpxA2 control. Comparison of transcriptomes identified many genes that were upregulated when either SpxA1DD or SpxA2DD was produced, but several genes were uncovered whose transcript levels increased in only one of the two SpxADD-expression strains, suggesting that each Spx paralog governs a unique regulon. Among genes that were upregulated were those encoding orthologs of proteins that are specifically involved in maintaining intracellular thiol homeostasis or alleviating oxidative stress. Some of these genes have important roles in B. anthracis pathogenesis, and a large number of upregulated hypothetical genes have no homology outside of the B. cereus/thuringiensis group. Microarray and RT-qPCR analyses also unveiled a regulatory link that exists between the two spx paralogous genes. The data indicate that spxA1 and spxA2 are transcriptional regulators involved in relieving disulfide stress but also control a set of genes whose products function in other cellular processes.MicrobiologyOpen. 07/2013;