[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A common survival strategy of microorganisms subjected to stress involves the generation of phenotypic heterogeneity in the isogenic microbial population enabling a subset of the population to survive under stress. In a recent study, a mycobacterial population of M. smegmatis was shown to develop phenotypic heterogeneity under nutrient depletion. The observed heterogeneity is in the form of a bimodal distribution of the expression levels of the Green Fluorescent Protein (GFP) as reporter with the gfp fused to the promoter of the rel gene. The stringent response pathway is initiated in the subpopulation with high rel activity.
In the present study, we characterise quantitatively the single cell promoter activity of the three key genes, namely, mprA, sigE and rel, in the stringent response pathway with gfp as the reporter. The origin of bimodality in the GFP distribution lies in two stable expression states, i.e., bistability. We develop a theoretical model to study the dynamics of the stringent response pathway. The model incorporates a recently proposed mechanism of bistability based on positive feedback and cell growth retardation due to protein synthesis. Based on flow cytometry data, we establish that the distribution of GFP levels in the mycobacterial population at any point of time is a linear superposition of two invariant distributions, one Gaussian and the other lognormal, with only the coefficients in the linear combination depending on time. This allows us to use a binning algorithm and determine the time variation of the mean protein level, the fraction of cells in a subpopulation and also the coefficient of variation, a measure of gene expression noise.
The results of the theoretical model along with a comprehensive analysis of the flow cytometry data provide definitive evidence for the coexistence of two subpopulations with overlapping protein distributions.
BMC Systems Biology 01/2011; 5:18. · 2.98 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The bacterial divisome is a multiprotein complex. Specific protein-protein interactions specify whether cell division occurs optimally, or whether division is arrested. Little is known about these protein-protein interactions and their regulation in mycobacteria. We have investigated the interrelationship between the products of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis gene cluster Rv0014c-Rv0019c, namely PknA (encoded by Rv0014c) and FtsZ-interacting protein A, FipA (encoded by Rv0019c) and the products of the division cell wall (dcw) cluster, namely FtsZ and FtsQ. M. smegmatis strains depleted in components of the two gene clusters have been complemented with orthologs of the respective genes of M. tuberculosis. Here we identify FipA as an interacting partner of FtsZ and FtsQ and establish that PknA-dependent phosphorylation of FipA on T77 and FtsZ on T343 is required for cell division under oxidative stress. A fipA knockout strain of M. smegmatis is less capable of withstanding oxidative stress than the wild type and showed elongation of cells due to a defect in septum formation. Localization of FtsQ, FtsZ and FipA at mid-cell was also compromised. Growth and survival defects under oxidative stress could be functionally complemented by fipA of M. tuberculosis but not its T77A mutant. Merodiploid strains of M. smegmatis expressing the FtsZ(T343A) showed inhibition of FtsZ-FipA interaction and Z ring formation under oxidative stress. Knockdown of FipA led to elongation of M. tuberculosis cells grown in macrophages and reduced intramacrophage growth. These data reveal a novel role of phosphorylation-dependent protein-protein interactions involving FipA, in the sustenance of mycobacterial cell division under oxidative stress.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(1):e8590. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Mycobacterium tuberculosis genome encodes two peptide transporters encoded by Rv3665c-Rv3662c and Rv1280c-Rv1283c. Both belong to the family of ABC transporters containing two nucleotide-binding subunits, two integral membrane proteins and one substrate-binding polypeptide. However, little is known about their functions in M. tuberculosis. Here we report functional characterization of the Rv1280c-Rv1283c-encoded transporter and its substrate-binding polypeptide OppA(MTB).
OppA(MTB) was capable of binding the tripeptide glutathione and the nonapeptide bradykinin, indicative of a somewhat broad substrate specificity. Amino acid residues G109, N110, N230, D494 and F496, situated at the interface between domains I and III of OppA, were required for optimal peptide binding. Complementaton of an oppA knockout mutant of M. smegmatis with OppA(MTB) confirmed the role of this transporter in importing glutathione and the importance of the aforesaid amino acid residues in peptide transport. Interestingly, this transporter regulated the ability of M. tuberculosis to lower glutathione levels in infected compared to uninfected macrophages. This ability was partly offset by inactivation of oppD. Concomitantly, inactivation of oppD was associated with lowered levels of methyl glyoxal in infected macrophages and reduced apoptosis-inducing ability of the mutant. The ability to induce the production of the cytokines IL-1beta, IL-6 and TNF-alpha was also compromised after inactivation of oppD.
Taken together, these studies uncover the novel observations that this peptide transporter modulates the innate immune response of macrophages infected with M. tuberculosis.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(8):e12225. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Central to the response of Mycobacterium tuberculosis to environmental stress is the regulation of genes under the control of alternative sigma factors. Sigma E of M. tuberculosis plays an important role in the intracellular life of the bacterium and regulates several genes which are important for maintaining the integrity of the cell envelope stress. This makes it important to understand how SigE is activated under stress. Here we elucidate the mechanisms regulating interaction of SigE with its cognate anti-sigma factor RseA. Cysteines 70 and 73 are required for redox-dependent interaction of RseA with SigE. Under surface stress, PknB-dependent phosphorylation of RseA on T39 is required for its cleavage by ClpC1P2 thereby activating the SigE regulon. Rv2745c (MSMEG_2694), a transcriptional regulator, activates the clp regulon in response to vancomycin-induced stress. Taken together with the previous report that Rv2745c is activated by SigE, our study uncovers a positive feedback loop that activates the sigE regulon under envelope stress.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mycobacteria encode putative class II polyphosphate kinases (PPKs). We report that recombinant PPK2 of Mycobacterium tuberculosis catalyses the synthesis of GTP from GDP using polyphosphate rather than ATP as phosphate donor. Unlike that of PPK1, this is the favoured reaction of PPK2. The sites of autophosphorylation, H115 and H247, as well as G74 were critical for GTP-synthesizing activity. Compromised survival of a ppk2 knockout (PPK2-KO) of Mycobacterium smegmatis under heat or acid stress or hypoxia, and the ability of ppk2 of M. tuberculosis to complement this, confirmed that PPK2 plays a role in mycobacterial survival under stress. Intracellular ATP : GTP ratio was higher in PPK2-KO compared with the wild-type M. smegmatis, bringing to light a role of PPK2 in regulating the intracellular nucleotide pool. We present evidence that PPK2 does so by interacting with nucleoside diphosphate kinase (Ndk). Pull-down assays and analysis by surface plasmon resonance demonstrated that the interaction requires G74 of PPK2(MTB) and (109)LET(111) of Ndk(MTB). In summary, we unravel a novel mechanism of regulation of nucleotide pools in mycobacteria. Downregulation of ppk2 impairs survival of M. tuberculosis in macrophages, suggesting that PPK2 plays an important role in the physiology of the bacteria residing within macrophages.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Wag31 of Mycobacterium tuberculosis belongs to the DivIVA family of proteins known to regulate cell morphology in Gram-positive bacteria. Here we demonstrate an unrecognized, novel role of Wag31 in oxidatively stressed mycobacteria. We report the cleavage of penicillin-binding protein 3 (PBP3) by the intramembrane metalloprotease Rv2869c (MSMEG_2579) in oxidatively stressed cells. Amino acids (102)A and (103)A of PBP3 are required for Rv2869c-mediated cleavage. Wag31(MTB), by virtue of its interaction with PBP3 through amino acid residues (46)NSD(48), protects it from oxidative stress-induced cleavage. PBP3 undergoes cleavage in Mycobacterium smegmatis (strain PM2) harbouring wag31(Delta(46)NSD(48)) instead of the wild type, with concomitant reduction in ability to withstand oxidative stress. Overexpression of Wag31(Delta(46)NSD(48)) attenuates the survival of M. tuberculosis in macrophages with concomitant cleavage of PBP3, and renders the organism more susceptible towards hydrogen peroxide as well as drugs which generate reactive oxygen species, namely isoniazid and ofloxacin. We propose that targeting Wag31 could enhance the activity of mycobactericidal drugs which are known to generate reactive oxygen species.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Phenotypic heterogeneity in an isogenic, microbial population enables a subset of the population to persist under stress. In mycobacteria, stresses like nutrient and oxygen deprivation activate the stress response pathway involving the two-component system MprAB and the sigma factor, SigE. SigE in turn activates the expression of the stringent response regulator, rel. The enzyme polyphosphate kinase 1 (PPK1) regulates this pathway by synthesizing polyphosphate required for the activation of MprB. The precise manner in which only a subpopulation of bacterial cells develops persistence, remains unknown. Rel is required for mycobacterial persistence. Here we show that the distribution of rel expression levels in a growing population of mycobacteria is bimodal with two distinct peaks corresponding to low (L) and high (H) expression states, and further establish that a positive feedback loop involving the mprAB operon along with stochastic gene expression are responsible for the phenotypic heterogeneity. Combining single cell analysis by flow cytometry with theoretical modeling, we observe that during growth, noise-driven transitions take a subpopulation of cells from the L to the H state within a "window of opportunity" in time preceding the stationary phase. It is these cells which adapt to nutrient depletion in the stationary phase via the stringent response. We find evidence of hysteresis in the expression of rel in response to changing concentrations of PPK1. Hysteresis promotes robustness in the maintenance of the induced state. Our results provide, for the first time, evidence that bistability and stochastic gene expression could be important for the development of "heterogeneity with an advantage" in mycobacteria and suggest strategies for tackling tuberculosis like targeting transitions from the low to the high rel expression state.
PLoS ONE 02/2008; 3(3):e1771. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Polyphosphate kinase 1 (PPK1) helps bacteria to survive under stress. The ppk1 gene of Mycobacterium tuberculosis was overexpressed in Escherichia coli and characterized. Residues R230 and F176, predicted to be present in the head domain of PPK1, were identified as residues critical for polyphosphate (polyP)-synthesizing ability and dimerization of PPK1. A ppk1 knockout mutant of Mycobacterium smegmatis was compromised in its ability to survive under long-term hypoxia. The transcription of the rel gene and the synthesis of the stringent response regulator ppGpp were impaired in the mutant and restored after complementation with ppk1 of M. tuberculosis, providing evidence that PPK1 is required for the stringent response. We present evidence that PPK1 is likely required for mprAB-sigE-rel signalling. sigma(E) regulates the transcription of rel, and we hypothesize that under conditions of stress polyP acts as a preferred donor for MprB-mediated phosphorylation of MprA facilitating transcription of the sigE gene thereby leading finally to the enhancement of the transcription of rel in M. smegmatis and M. tuberculosis. Downregulation of ppk1 led to impaired survival of M. tuberculosis in macrophages. PolyP plays a central role in the stress response of mycobacteria.