Regulation of Cell Growth during Serum Starvation and Bacterial Survival in Macrophages by the Bifunctional Enzyme SpoT in Helicobacter pylori

National Cancer Institute-Frederick, National Institutes of Health, Frederick, MD 21702, USA.
Journal of bacteriology (Impact Factor: 2.81). 11/2008; 190(24):8025-32. DOI: 10.1128/JB.01134-08
Source: PubMed


In Helicobacter pylori the stringent response is mediated solely by spoT. The spoT gene is known to encode (p)ppGpp synthetase activity and is required for H. pylori survival in the stationary phase. However, neither the hydrolase activity of the H. pylori SpoT protein nor the role of SpoT in the regulation of growth during serum starvation and intracellular survival of H. pylori in macrophages has been determined. In this study, we examined the effects of SpoT on these factors. Our results showed that the H. pylori spoT gene encodes a bifunctional enzyme with both a hydrolase activity and the previously described (p)ppGpp synthetase activity, as determined by introducing the gene into Escherichia coli relA and spoT defective strains. Also, we found that SpoT mediates a serum starvation response, which not only restricts the growth but also maintains the helical morphology of H. pylori. Strikingly, a spoT null mutant was able to grow to a higher density in serum-free medium than the wild-type strain, mimicking the "relaxed" growth phenotype of an E. coli relA mutant during amino acid starvation. Finally, SpoT was found to be important for intracellular survival in macrophages during phagocytosis. The unique role of (p)ppGpp in cell growth during serum starvation, in the stress response, and in the persistence of H. pylori is discussed.

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