Joachim Stephan

Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany

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Publications (7)21.55 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: We present a comprehensive analysis of carbohydrate uptake systems of the soil bacterium Mycobacterium smegmatis and the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Our results show that M. smegmatis has 28 putative carbohydrate transporters. The majority of sugar transport systems (19/28) in M. smegmatis belong to the ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporter family. In contrast to previous reports, we identified genes encoding all components of the phosphotransferase system (PTS), including permeases for fructose, glucose, and dihydroxyacetone, in M. smegmatis. It is anticipated that the PTS of M. smegmatis plays an important role in the global control of carbon metabolism similar to those of other bacteria. M. smegmatis further possesses one putative glycerol facilitator of the major intrinsic protein family, four sugar permeases of the major facilitator superfamily, one of which was assigned as a glucose transporter, and one galactose permease of the sodium solute superfamily. Our predictions were validated by gene expression, growth, and sugar transport analyses. Strikingly, we detected only five sugar permeases in the slow-growing species M. tuberculosis, two of which occur in M. smegmatis. Genes for a PTS are missing in M. tuberculosis. Our analysis thus brings the diversity of carbohydrate uptake systems of fast- and a slow-growing mycobacteria to light, which reflects the lifestyles of M. smegmatis and M. tuberculosis in their natural habitats, the soil and the human body, respectively.
    Journal of Bacteriology 09/2007; 189(16):5903-15. DOI:10.1128/JB.00257-07 · 2.69 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: For soil-dwelling bacteria that usually live in a carbon-rich and nitrogen-poor environment, the ability to utilize chitin - the second most abundant polysaccharide on earth - is a decisive evolving advantage as it is a source for both elements. Streptomycetes are high-GC Gram-positive soil bacteria that are equipped with a broad arsenal of chitinase-degrading genes. These genes are induced when the streptomycetes sense the presence of chitooligosaccharides. Their expression is repressed as soon as more readily assimilated carbon sources become available. This includes for example glucose or N-acetylglucosamine, the monomer subunit of chitin. Historically, the first cis-acting elements involved in carbon regulation in streptomycetes were found more than a decade ago upstream of chitinase genes, but the transcriptional regulator had so far remained undiscovered. In this work, we show that these cis-acting elements consist of inverted repeats with multiple occurrences and are bound by the HutC/GntR type regulator DasR. We have therefore designated these sites as DasR-responsive elements (dre). DasR, which is also the repressor of the genes for the N-acetylglucosamine-specific phosphotransferase transport system, should therefore play a critical role in sensing the balance between the monomeric and polymeric forms of N-acetylglucosamine.
    Journal of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology 02/2007; 12(1-2):60-6. DOI:10.1159/000096460 · 1.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mycobacteria have a unique outer membrane (OM) that is thicker than any other known biological membrane. Nutrients cross this permeability barrier by diffusion through porins. MspA is the major porin of Mycobacterium smegmatis. In this study we showed that three paralogues of MspA, namely MspB, MspC and MspD are also porins. However, only the mspA and mspC genes were expressed in the wild-type strain. None of the single deletion mutants displayed a significant OM permeability defect except for the mspA mutant. Deletion of the mspA gene caused activation of transcription of mspB and/or mspD in three independent strains by unknown chromosomal mutations. It is concluded that mspB and mspD provide backup porins for M. smegmatis. This also indicated that a minimal porin-mediated OM permeability is essential for survival of M. smegmatis. Electron microscopy in combination with quantitative image analysis of protein gels revealed that the number of pores per cell dropped from 2400 to 800 and 150 for the DeltamspA and DeltamspA DeltamspC mutant (ML10) respectively. The very low number of pores correlated well with the at least 20-fold lower channel activity of detergent extracts of the ML10 strain and its 15- and 75-fold lower permeability to nutrient molecules such as serine and glucose respectively. The amount of Msp porin and the OM permeability of the triple porin mutant lacking mspA, mspC and mspD was not altered. The growth rate of M. smegmatis dropped drastically with its porin-mediated OM permeability in contrast to porin mutants of Escherichia coli. These results show that porin-mediated influx of nutrients is a major determinant of the growth rate of M. smegmatis.
    Molecular Microbiology 12/2005; 58(3):714-30. DOI:10.1111/j.1365-2958.2005.04878.x · 5.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The genus Mycobacterium comprises highly pathogenic as well as opportunistic or apathogenic species exhibiting a great variability with respect to their ability to persist or multiply within monocytic host cells. The impact of the permeability of the mycobacterial outer membrane on intracellular persistence was studied. For this purpose, a Mycobacterium smegmatis mutant with a deletion of the major porin gene mspA and a second mutant lacking mspA and the homologous porin gene mspC were used. Deletion of mspA together with mspC significantly enhanced intracellular persistence in murine bone marrow macrophages, the mouse macrophage cell line J774A.1 and Acanthamoeba castellanii. Complementation of mspA in the porin mutant strains resulted in restoration of the wild-type phenotype with respect to intracellular persistence. This is the first report to show that the deletion of porins of mycobacteria results in improved persistence in eukaryotic cells, demonstrating that the intracellular persistence of M. smegmatis depends upon the permeability of the outer membrane.
    Microbiology 08/2005; 151(Pt 7):2403-10. DOI:10.1099/mic.0.27969-0 · 2.84 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mycobacteria contain a large number of redundant genes whose functions are difficult to analyze in mutants, because there are only two efficient resistance markers available for allelic exchange experiments. We have established a system based on the Flp recombinase of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae for use in the nonpathogenic model organism Mycobacterium smegmatis. This system consists of a hygromycin resistance cassette flanked by two Flp recognition targets (FRT) in direct orientation and a curable plasmid for expression of the flp gene. The FRT-hyg-FRT cassette was used on a suicide plasmid and on a conditionally replicating plasmid to delete two of the four known porin genes of M. smegmatis, mspA and mspC, respectively, by homologous recombination. The hyg gene was specifically removed from the chromosome of both mutants upon expression of the flp gene. Based on the marker-less mspC mutant strain, a double knock-out mutant lacking also mspA was obtained using the same strategy. Thus, by a fast and efficient two-step procedure, each of the porin genes was replaced by a single FRT site, which can be further used for site-specific integration. These results show that the Flp/FRT system is a suitable genetic tool for constructing unmarked mutations and for the analysis of redundant genes by consecutive gene deletions in M. smegmatis.
    Gene 01/2005; 343(1):181-90. DOI:10.1016/j.gene.2004.08.028 · 2.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mycobacteria contain an outer membrane of unusually low permeability which contributes to their intrinsic resistance to many agents. It is assumed that small and hydrophilic antibiotics cross the outer membrane via porins, whereas hydrophobic antibiotics may diffuse through the membrane directly. A mutant of Mycobacterium smegmatis lacking the major porin MspA was used to examine the role of the porin pathway in antibiotic sensitivity. Deletion of the mspA gene caused high-level resistance of M. smegmatis to 256 microg of ampicillin/ml by increasing the MIC 16-fold. The permeation of cephaloridine in the mspA mutant was reduced ninefold, and the resistance increased eightfold. This established a clear relationship between the activity and the outer membrane permeation of cephaloridine. Surprisingly, the MICs of the large and/or hydrophobic antibiotics vancomycin, erythromycin, and rifampin for the mspA mutant were increased 2- to 10-fold. This is in contrast to those for Escherichia coli, whose sensitivity to these agents was not affected by deletion of porin genes. Uptake of the very hydrophobic steroid chenodeoxycholate by the mspA mutant was retarded threefold, which supports the hypothesis that loss of MspA indirectly reduces the permeability by the lipid pathway. The multidrug resistance of the mspA mutant highlights the prominent role of outer membrane permeability for the sensitivity of M. smegmatis to antibiotics. An understanding of the pathways across the outer membrane is essential to the successful design of chemotherapeutic agents with activities against mycobacteria.
    Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 12/2004; 48(11):4163-70. DOI:10.1128/AAC.48.11.4163-4170.2004 · 4.45 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background To understand mycobacterial pathogenesis analysis of gene expression by quantification of RNA levels becomes increasingly important. However, current preparation methods yield mycobacterial RNA that is contaminated with chromosomal DNA. Results After sonication of RNA samples from Mycobacterium smegmatis genomic DNA is efficiently removed by DNaseI in contrast to untreated samples. Conclusions This procedure eliminates one of the most prevalent error sources in quantification of RNA levels in mycobacteria.
    BMC Microbiology 12/2004; 4:45. DOI:10.1186/1471-2180-4-45 · 2.98 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

228 Citations
21.55 Total Impact Points


  • 2004–2007
    • Friedrich-Alexander Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
      Erlangen, Bavaria, Germany
    • Paul Sabatier University - Toulouse III
      • Institut de Pharmacologie et Biologie Structurale - UMR 5089 - IPBS
      Tolosa de Llenguadoc, Midi-Pyrénées, France