Cristina Alcántara

Spanish National Research Council, Hispalis, Andalusia, Spain

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Publications (7)23.26 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: To identify the differences that account for the acid sensitivity of Lactobacillus casei ΔRR12. RR12 controls the expression of the dlt operon, and its inactivation leads to a diminished teichoic acid D-alanylation activity. To this end, a comparison of its response of ΔRR12 to low pH with the parental strain Lact. casei BL23 was carried out. The ability to induce an acid tolerance response (ATR), fatty acid (FA) composition and proteome changes induced in both strains in response to acid were investigated. Results obtained showed that both strains induce a growth-phase-dependent ATR. However, significant differences in the content of FAs and membrane-associated proteins were detected. The greater abundance of cytoplasmic proteins in the membrane fraction of the mutant strain ΔRR12 suggests an increased permeability of the cell membrane in this strain. The analysis of the response to low pH of strain ΔRR12 indicated that the inactivation of TCS12 affected the content of FAs and proteins associated to the cell envelope. Increased abundance of cytoplasmic proteins suggested that low alanylation of teichoic acids affected the permeability of the cell membrane and possibly accounts for the acid sensitivity of strain ΔRR12.
    Journal of Applied Microbiology 01/2014; · 2.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Polyphosphate (poly-P) is a polymer of phosphate residues synthesized and in some cases accumulated by microorganisms, where it plays crucial physiological roles such as the participation in the response to nutritional stringencies and environmental stresses. Poly-P metabolism has received little attention in Lactobacillus, a lactic acid bacteria genus of relevance for food production and health of humans and animals. We show that among thirty four strains of Lactobacillus, eighteen of them accumulated intracellular poly-P granules as revealed by specific staining and electron microscopy. Poly-P accumulation was generally dependent on the presence of elevated phosphate concentrations in the culture medium and it correlated with the presence of polyphosphate kinase (ppk) genes in the genomes. The ppk gene from Lactobacillus displayed a genetic arrangement in which it was flanked by two genes encoding exopolyphosphatases of the Ppx-GppA family. The ppk functionality was corroborated by its disruption (LCABL_27820 gene) in Lactobacillus casei BL23 strain. The constructed ppk mutant showed a lack of intracellular poly-P granules and a drastic reduction in poly-P synthesis. Resistance to several stresses was tested in the ppk-disrupted strain, showing that it presented a diminished growth under high salt or low pH and an increased sensitivity to oxidative stress. These results show that poly-P accumulation is a characteristic of some strains of lactobacilli and may thus play important roles in the physiology of these microorganisms.
    Applied and Environmental Microbiology 12/2013; · 3.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Two component systems (TCS) are major signal transduction pathways that allow bacteria to detect and respond to environmental and intracellular changes. A group of TCS has been shown to be involved in the response against antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). These TCS are characterized by the possession of intramembrane sensing histidine kinases, and they are usually associated with ABC transporters of the peptide-7 exporter family (Pep7E). Lactobacillus casei BL23 encodes two TCS belonging to this group (TCS09 and TCS12) located next to genes encoding ABC transporters (ABC09 and ABC12) as well as a third Pep7E ABC transporter not genetically associated with any TCS (orphan ABC). This study addressed the involvement of modules TCS09/ABC09 and TCS12/ABC12 in AMP resistance. Results showed that both systems contribute to L. casei resistance to AMPs and that each TCS constitutes a functional unit with its corresponding ABC transporter. Analysis of transcriptional levels showed that module 09 is required for the induction of ABC09 expression in response to nisin. In contrast, module 12 controls a wider regulon that encompasses the orphan ABC, the dlt operon (D-alanylation of teichoid acids) and the mprF gene (L-lysynilation of phospholipids) thus controlling properties of the cell envelope. Furthermore, the characterization of a dltA mutant showed that Dlt plays a major role in AMP resistance in L. casei. This is the first report on the regulation of the response of L. casei to AMPs, giving insight into its ability to adapt to the challenging environments that it encounters as a probiotic microorganism.
    Applied and Environmental Microbiology 03/2013; · 3.95 Impact Factor
  • Cristina Alcántara, Manuel Zúñiga
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    ABSTRACT: Lactobacillus casei is a lactic acid bacterium commonly found in the gastrointestinal tract of animals, and some strains are used as probiotics. The ability of probiotic strains to survive the passage through the gastrointestinal tract is considered a key factor for their probiotic action. Therefore, tolerance to bile salts is a desirable feature for probiotic strains. In this study we have characterized the response of L. casei BL23 to bile by a transcriptomic and proteomic approach. The analysis revealed that exposure to bile induced changes in the abundance of 52 proteins and the transcript levels of 67 genes. The observed changes affected genes and proteins involved in the stress response, fatty acid and cell wall biosynthesis, metabolism of carbohydrates, transport of peptides, coenzyme levels, membrane H(+)-ATPase, and a number of uncharacterized genes and proteins. These data provide new insights into the mechanisms that enable L. casei BL23 to cope with bile stress.
    Microbiology 02/2012; 158(Pt 5):1206-18. · 3.06 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To determine the inhibitory effect of phenolic compounds on Lactobacillus casei BL23, the role of two component signal transduction systems (TCS) and the response of Lact. casei BL23 to p-coumaric acid. Growth of Lact. casei BL23 and 17 derivative strains defective in each TCS harboured by this strain in the presence of p-coumaric acid, ferulic acid, caffeic acid or methyl gallate was monitored. Furthermore, changes in the protein content of Lact. casei BL23 when exposed to p-coumaric acid were evaluated by 2D-SDS-PAGE. Eleven proteins differentially expressed in the presence of p-coumaric acid were detected. Six of them could be identified: ClpP and HtrA, involved in protein turnover and folding, acetyl-CoA carboxylase, involved in lipid metabolism, and an arginyl-tRNA synthetase were more abundant, whereas PurL and PurN, involved in purine biosynthesis, were less abundant. No significant differences were observed between the parental strain and the TCS-defective mutants. p-Coumaric acid elicited a response against membrane and cytoplasmic damages. The inhibitory effect of phenolic compounds on Lact. casei BL23 has been determined. For the first time, cytoplasmic proteins presumably involved in the response of Lact. casei BL23 against p-coumaric acid have been identified.
    Journal of Applied Microbiology 09/2011; 111(6):1473-81. · 2.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Lactobacillus casei BL23 carries 17 two-component signal transduction systems. Insertional mutations were introduced into each gene encoding the cognate response regulators, and their effects on growth under different conditions were assayed. Inactivation of systems TC01, TC06, and TC12 (LCABL_02080-LCABL_02090, LCABL_12050-LCABL_12060, and LCABL_19600-LCABL_19610, respectively) led to major growth defects under the conditions assayed.
    Applied and Environmental Microbiology 02/2011; 77(4):1516-9. · 3.95 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sequence analysis of the five genes (gutRMCBA) downstream from the previously described sorbitol-6-phosphate dehydrogenase-encoding Lactobacillus casei gutF gene revealed that they constitute a sorbitol (glucitol) utilization operon. The gutRM genes encode putative regulators, while the gutCBA genes encode the EIIC, EIIBC, and EIIA proteins of a phosphoenolpyruvate-dependent sorbitol phosphotransferase system (PTS(Gut)). The gut operon is transcribed as a polycistronic gutFRMCBA messenger, the expression of which is induced by sorbitol and repressed by glucose. gutR encodes a transcriptional regulator with two PTS-regulated domains, a galactitol-specific EIIB-like domain (EIIB(Gat) domain) and a mannitol/fructose-specific EIIA-like domain (EIIA(Mtl) domain). Its inactivation abolished gut operon transcription and sorbitol uptake, indicating that it acts as a transcriptional activator. In contrast, cells carrying a gutB mutation expressed the gut operon constitutively, but they failed to transport sorbitol, indicating that EIIBC(Gut) negatively regulates GutR. A footprint analysis showed that GutR binds to a 35-bp sequence upstream from the gut promoter. A sequence comparison with the presumed promoter region of gut operons from various firmicutes revealed a GutR consensus motif that includes an inverted repeat. The regulation mechanism of the L. casei gut operon is therefore likely to be operative in other firmicutes. Finally, gutM codes for a conserved protein of unknown function present in all sequenced gut operons. A gutM mutant, the first constructed in a firmicute, showed drastically reduced gut operon expression and sorbitol uptake, indicating a regulatory role also for GutM.
    Applied and Environmental Microbiology 10/2008; 74(18):5731-40. · 3.95 Impact Factor