[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Individual cell heterogeneity is commonly observed within populations, although its molecular basis is largely unknown. Previously, using FRET-based microscopy, we observed heterogeneity in cellular c-di-GMP levels. In this study, we show that c-di-GMP heterogeneity in Pseudomonas aeruginosa is promoted by a specific phosphodiesterase partitioned after cell division. We found that subcellular localization and reduction of c-di-GMP levels by this phosphodiesterase is dependent on the histidine kinase component of the chemotaxis machinery, CheA, and its phosphorylation state. Therefore, individual cell heterogeneity in c-di-GMP concentrations is regulated by the activity and the asymmetrical inheritance of the chemotaxis organelle after cell division. c-di-GMP heterogeneity results in a diversity of motility behaviors. The generation of diverse intracellular concentrations of c-di-GMP by asymmetric partitioning is likely important to the success and survival of bacterial populations within the environment by allowing a variety of motility behaviors. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.01402.001.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: c-di-GMP is a bacterial second messenger that is enzymatically synthesized and degraded in response to environmental signals. Cellular processes are affected when c-di-GMP binds to receptors which include proteins that contain the PilZ domain. Although each c-di-GMP synthesis or degradation enzyme metabolizes the same molecule, many of these enzymes can be linked to specific downstream processes. Here we present evidence that c-di-GMP signalling specificity is achieved through differences in affinities of receptor macromolecules. We show that the PilZ domain proteins of Salmonella Typhimurium, YcgR and BcsA, demonstrate a 43-fold difference in their affinity for c-di-GMP. Modulation of the affinities of these proteins altered their activities in a predictable manner in vivo. Inactivation of yhjH, which encodes a predicted c-di-GMP degrading enzyme, increased the fraction of the cellular population that demonstrated c-di-GMP levels high enough to bind to the higher-affinity YcgR protein and inhibit motility, but not high enough to bind to the lower-affinity BcsA protein and stimulate cellulose production. Finally, PilZ domain proteins of Pseudomonas aeruginosa demonstrated a 145-fold difference in binding affinities, suggesting that regulation by binding affinity may be a conserved mechanism that allows organisms with many c-di-GMP binding macromolecules to rapidly integrate multiple environmental signals into one output.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The bacterial second messenger cyclic diguanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP) regulates cellular motility and the synthesis of organelles and molecules that promote adhesion to a variety of biological and nonbiological surfaces. These properties likely require tight spatial and temporal regulation of c-di-GMP concentration. We have developed genetically encoded fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET)-based biosensors to monitor c-di-GMP concentrations within single bacterial cells by microscopy. Fluctuations of c-di-GMP were visualized in diverse Gram-negative bacterial species and observed to be cell cycle dependent. Asymmetrical distribution of c-di-GMP in the progeny correlated with the time of cell division and polarization for Caulobacter crescentus and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Thus, asymmetrical distribution of c-di-GMP was observed as part of cell division, which may indicate an important regulatory step in extracellular organelle biosynthesis or function.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In addition to causing diarrhea, Escherichia coli O157:H7 infection can lead to hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), a severe disease characterized by hemolysis and renal failure. Differences in HUS frequency among E. coli O157:H7 outbreaks have been noted, but our understanding of bacterial factors that promote HUS is incomplete. In 2006, in an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7 caused by consumption of contaminated spinach, there was a notably high frequency of HUS. We sequenced the genome of the strain responsible (TW14359) with the goal of identifying candidate genetic factors that contribute to an enhanced ability to cause HUS. The TW14359 genome contains 70 kb of DNA segments not present in either of the two reference O157:H7 genomes. We identified seven putative virulence determinants, including two putative type III secretion system effector proteins, candidate genes that could result in increased pathogenicity or, alternatively, adaptation to plants, and an intact anaerobic nitric oxide reductase gene, norV. We surveyed 100 O157:H7 isolates for the presence of these putative virulence determinants. A norV deletion was found in over one-half of the strains surveyed and correlated strikingly with the absence of stx(1). The other putative virulence factors were found in 8 to 35% of the O157:H7 isolates surveyed, and their presence also correlated with the presence of norV and the absence of stx(1), indicating that the presence of norV may serve as a marker of a greater propensity for HUS, similar to the correlation between the absence of stx(1) and a propensity for HUS.
Infection and immunity 07/2009; 77(9):3713-21. · 4.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) is characterized by the placental sequestration of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes (IEs) with the ability to bind to chondroitin sulfate A (CSA). VAR2CSA is a leading candidate for a pregnancy malaria vaccine, but its large size ( approximately 350 kDa) and extensive polymorphism may pose a challenge to vaccine development. In this study, rabbits were immunized with individual VAR2CSA Duffy binding-like (DBL) domains expressed in Pichia pastoris or var2csa plasmid DNA and sera were screened on different CSA-binding parasite lines. Rabbit antibodies to three recombinant proteins (DBL1, DBL3, and DBL6) and four plasmid DNAs (DBL1, DBL3, DBL5, and DBL6) reacted with homologous FCR3-CSA IEs. By comparison, antibodies to the DBL4 domain were unable to react with native VAR2CSA protein unless it was first partially proteolyzed with trypsin or chymotrypsin. To investigate the antigenic relationship of geographically diverse CSA-binding isolates, rabbit immune sera were screened on four heterologous CSA-binding lines from different continental origins. Antibodies did not target conserved epitopes exposed in all VAR2CSA alleles; however, antisera to several DBL domains cross-reacted on parasite isolates that had polymorphic loops in common with the homologous immunogen. This study demonstrates that VAR2CSA contains common polymorphic epitopes that are shared between geographically diverse CSA-binding lines.
Infection and immunity 05/2008; 76(4):1791-800. · 4.21 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: MobilomeFINDER (http://mml.sjtu.edu.cn/MobilomeFINDER) is an interactive online tool that facilitates bacterial genomic island or 'mobile genome' (mobilome) discovery; it integrates the ArrayOme and tRNAcc software packages. ArrayOme utilizes a microarray-derived comparative genomic hybridization input data set to generate 'inferred contigs' produced by merging adjacent genes classified as 'present'. Collectively these 'fragments' represent a hypothetical 'microarray-visualized genome (MVG)'. ArrayOme permits recognition of discordances between physical genome and MVG sizes, thereby enabling identification of strains rich in microarray-elusive novel genes. Individual tRNAcc tools facilitate automated identification of genomic islands by comparative analysis of the contents and contexts of tRNA sites and other integration hotspots in closely related sequenced genomes. Accessory tools facilitate design of hotspot-flanking primers for in silico and/or wet-science-based interrogation of cognate loci in unsequenced strains and analysis of islands for features suggestive of foreign origins; island-specific and genome-contextual features are tabulated and represented in schematic and graphical forms. To date we have used MobilomeFINDER to analyse several Enterobacteriaceae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Streptococcus suis genomes. MobilomeFINDER enables high-throughput island identification and characterization through increased exploitation of emerging sequence data and PCR-based profiling of unsequenced test strains; subsequent targeted yeast recombination-based capture permits full-length sequencing and detailed functional studies of novel genomic islands.
Nucleic Acids Research 08/2007; 35(Web Server issue):W97-W104. · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: ExoU is a potent Pseudomonas aeruginosa cytotoxin translocated into host cells by the type III secretion system. A comparison of genomes of various P. aeruginosa strains showed that that the ExoU determinant is found in the same polymorphic region of the chromosome near a tRNA(Lys) gene, suggesting that exoU is a horizontally acquired virulence determinant. We used yeast recombinational cloning to characterize four distinct ExoU-encoding DNA segments. We then sequenced and annotated three of these four genomic regions. The sequence of the largest DNA segment, named ExoU island A, revealed many plasmid- and genomic island-associated genes, most of which have been conserved across a broad set of beta- and gamma-Proteobacteria. Comparison of the sequenced ExoU-encoding genomic islands to the corresponding PAO1 tRNA(Lys)-linked genomic island, the pathogenicity islands of strain PA14, and pKLC102 of clone C strains allowed us to propose a mechanism for the origin and transmission of the ExoU determinant. The evolutionary history very likely involved transposition of the ExoU determinant onto a transmissible plasmid, followed by transfer of the plasmid into different P. aeruginosa strains. The plasmid subsequently integrated into a tRNA(Lys) gene in the chromosome of each recipient, where it acquired insertion sequences and underwent deletions and rearrangements. We have also applied yeast recombinational cloning to facilitate a targeted mutagenesis of ExoU island A, further demonstrating the utility of the specific features of the yeast capture vector for functional analyses of genes on large horizontally acquired genetic elements.
Journal of Bacteriology 07/2006; 188(11):4037-50. · 3.19 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Biofilm formation by the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa requires the expression of a number of surface adhesive components. The expression of surface organelles facilitating biofilm formation is controlled by environmental signals acting through transcriptional regulatory networks. We analysed the expression of a family of P. aeruginosa adhesins encoded by three distinct fimbrial gene clusters (cupA, cupB and cupC). Using transposon mutagenesis, we have identified several regulatory loci that upregulated cupB and cupC transcription. One such locus contains three components, RocS1, RocR and RocA1, which represent a variant of a classical two-component signal transduction pathway. RocS1 is a sensor kinase, RocA1 is a DNA binding response regulator that activates cup genes, and RocR is an antagonist of RocA1 activity. Using a two-hybrid assay, we have shown that RocS1 interacts with receiver domains of both RocA1 and RocR. Expression of the Cup system in response to environmental stimuli is accomplished by a novel mechanism in which the sensor kinase activates its cognate response regulator through a phosphorelay pathway, while an additional repressor protein modulates this interaction.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa causes a variety of acute and chronic infections. We identified a gene whose inactivation results in attenuation of virulence due to premature activation of genes involved in biofilm formation and coordinate repression of genes required for initial colonization. This gene, retS, encodes a hybrid sensor kinase/response regulator with an unconventional arrangement of functional domains. Genome-wide transcriptional profiling indicates that the retS gene is required for expression of the Type III secretion system and other virulence factors and for repression of genes responsible for exopolysaccharide components of the P. aeruginosa biofilm matrix. These disparate phenotypes are suppressed by transposon insertions in genes encoding the GacS/GacA/rsmZ signal transduction pathway, a highly conserved system involved in the control of diverse adaptive functions. This study defines RetS as a pleiotropic regulator of multiple virulence phenotypes that orchestrates genes required for acute infection and genes associated with chronic persistence.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a ubiquitous environmental bacterium capable of causing a variety of life-threatening human infections. The genetic basis for preferential infection of certain immunocompromised patients or individuals with cystic fibrosis by P. aeruginosa is not understood. To establish whether variation in the genomic repertoire of P. aeruginosa strains can be associated with a particular type of infection, we used a whole-genome DNA microarray to determine the genome content of 18 strains isolated from the most common human infections and environmental sources. A remarkable conservation of genes including those encoding nearly all known virulence factors was observed. Phylogenetic analysis of strain-specific genes revealed no correlation between genome content and infection type. Clusters of strain-specific genes in the P. aeruginosa genome, termed variable segments, appear to be preferential sites for the integration of novel genetic material. A specialized cloning vector was developed for capture and analysis of these genomic segments. With this capture system a site associated with the strain-specific ExoU cytotoxin-encoding gene was interrogated and an 80-kb genomic island carrying exoU was identified. These studies demonstrate that P. aeruginosa strains possess a highly conserved genome that encodes genes important for survival in numerous environments and allows it to cause a variety of human infections. The acquisition of novel genetic material, such as the exoU genomic island, through horizontal gene transfer may enhance colonization and survival in different host environments.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 08/2003; 100(14):8484-9. · 9.74 Impact Factor