SciCombinator

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Journal: Molecular microbiology

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The bacterial flagellar motor, one of the few rotary motors in nature, produces torque to drive the flagellar filament by ion translocation through membrane-bound stator complexes. We used the light-driven proton pump proteorhodopsin (pR) to control the proton-motive force (PMF) in vivo by illumination. pR excitation was shown to be sufficient to replace native PMF generation, and when excited in cells with intact native PMF generation systems increased motor speed beyond the physiological norm. We characterized the effects of rapid in vivo PMF changes on the flagellar motor. Transient PMF disruption events from loss of illumination caused motors to stop, with rapid recovery of their previous rotation rate after return of illumination. However, extended periods of PMF loss led to stepwise increases in rotation rate upon PMF return as stators returned to the motor. The rate constant for stator binding to a putative single binding site on the motor was calculated to be 0.06 s(-1) . Using GFP-tagged MotB stator proteins, we found that transient PMF disruption leads to reversible stator diffusion away from the flagellar motor, showing that PMF presence is necessary for continued motor integrity, and calculated a stator dissociation rate of 0.038 s(-1) .

Concepts: Protein, Electron, Cell membrane, Atom, Torque, Flagellum, Electric motor, Stator

28

Type IV pili are surface organelles essential for pathogenicity of many Gram-negative bacteria. In Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the major subunit of type IV pili, PilE, is a target of its general O-linked glycosylation system. This system modifies a diverse set of periplasmic and extracellular gonococcal proteins with a variable set of glycans. Here we show that expression of a particular hexa-histidine-tagged PilE was associated with growth arrest. By studying intra- and extragenic suppressors, we found that this phenotype was dependent on pilus assembly and retraction. Based on these results, we developed a sensitive tool to identify factors with subtle effects on pilus dynamics. Using this approach, we found that glycan chain length has differential effects on the growth arrest that appears to be mediated at the level of pilin subunit-subunit interactions and bidirectional remodelling of pilin between its membrane-associated and assembled states. Gonococcal pilin glycosylation thus plays both an intracellular role in pilus dynamics and potential extracellular roles mediated through type IV pili. In addition to demonstrating the effect of glycosylation on pilus dynamics, the study provides a new way of identifying factors with less dramatic effects on processes involved in type IV pilus biogenesis.

Concepts: Cell, Bacteria, Microbiology, Escherichia coli, Gram negative bacteria, Pilus, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, Neisseria

28

Burkholderia cenocepacia is an opportunistic human pathogen that encodes two LuxI-type acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) synthases and three LuxR-type AHL receptors. Of these, cepI and cepR form a cognate synthase/receptor pair, as do cciI and cciR, while cepR2 lacks a genetically linked AHL synthase gene. Another group showed that a cepR2 mutant overexpressed a cluster of linked genes that appear to direct the production of a secondary metabolite (Malott et al., 2009). We found that these same genes were upregulated by octanoylhomoserine lactone (OHL), which is synthesized by CepI. These data suggest that several cepR2-linked promoters are repressed by CepR2 and that CepR2 is antagonized by OHL. Fusions of two divergent promoters to lacZ were used to confirm these hypotheses, and promoter resections and DNase I footprinting assays revealed a single CepR2 binding site between the two promoters. This binding site lies well upstream of both promoters, suggesting an unusual mode of repression. Adjacent to the cepR2 gene is a gene that we designate cepS, which encodes an AraC-type transcription factor. CepS is essential for expression of both promoters, regardless of the CepR2 status or OHL concentration. CepS therefore acts downstream of CepR2, and CepR2 appears to function as a CepS antiactivator.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Promoter, Transcription, RNA, RNA polymerase

28

Accurate positioning of the division site is essential to generate appropriately-sized daughter cells with the correct chromosome number. In bacteria, division generally depends on assembly of the tubulin homologue FtsZ into the Z-ring at the division site. Here, we show that lack of the ParA-like protein PomZ in M. xanthus resulted in division defects with the formation of chromosome-free minicells and filamentous cells. Lack of PomZ also caused reduced formation of Z-rings and incorrect positioning of the few Z-rings formed. PomZ localization is cell cycle regulated, and PomZ accumulates at the division site at midcell after chromosome segregation but prior to FtsZ as well as in the absence of FtsZ. FtsZ displayed cooperative GTP hydrolysis in vitro but did not form detectable filaments in vitro. PomZ interacted with FtsZ in M. xanthus cell extracts. These data show that PomZ is important for Z-ring formation and is a spatial regulator of Z-ring formation and cell division. The cell cycle-dependent localization of PomZ at midcell provides a mechanism for coupling cell cycle progression and Z-ring formation. Moreover, the data suggest that PomZ is part of a system that recruits FtsZ to midcell, thereby, restricting Z-ring formation to this position.

Concepts: Protein, Cell nucleus, Cell, Bacteria, Eukaryote, Cell division, Chromosome, Mitosis

28

Chromatin assembly and remodelling is an important process during the repair of DNA damage in eukaryotic cells. Although newly synthesized histone H4 is acetylated prior to nuclear import and incorporation into chromatin during DNA damage repair, the precise role of acetylation in this process is poorly understood. Here, we identify the histone acetyltransferase 1 (Hat1) catalysing the conserved acetylation pattern of histone H4 preceding its chromatin deposition in the fungal pathogen Candida albicans. Surprisingly, Hat1 is required for efficient repair of not just exogenous but also endogenous DNA damage. Cells lacking Hat1 rapidly accumulate DNA damages and switch from yeast-like to pseudohyphal growth. In addition, reduction of histone H4 mimics lack of Hat1, suggesting that inefficient H4 supply for deposition into chromatin is the key functional consequence of Hat1 deficiency. Thus, remarkably, we demonstrate that C. albicans is the first organism known to require histone H4 processing for endogenous DNA damage repair and morphogenesis. Strikingly, we also discover that hat1Δ/Δ cells are hypersusceptible to caspofungin due to intracellular reactive oxygen species induced by this drug. Hence, we propose that targeting this class of histone acetyltransferases in fungal pathogens may have potential in antifungal therapy.

Concepts: DNA, Bacteria, Histone, Eukaryote, Chromosome, DNA repair, Acetylation, Histone acetyltransferase

28

Type III secretion systems are used by many Gram-negative pathogens to directly deliver effector proteins into the cytoplasm of host cells. To accomplish this, bacteria secrete translocator proteins that form a pore in the host-cell membrane through which the effector proteins are then introduced into the host cell. Evidence from multiple systems indicates that the pore-forming translocator proteins are exported before effectors, but how this secretion hierarchy is established is unclear. Here we used the Pseudomonas aeruginosa translocator protein PopD as a model to identify its export signals. The N-terminal secretion signal and chaperone, PcrH, are required for export under all conditions. Two novel signals in PopD, one proximal to the chaperone binding site and one at the very C-terminus of the protein, are required for export of PopD before effector proteins. These novel export signals establish the translocator-effector secretion hierarchy, which in turn, is critical for the delivery of effectors into host cells.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Cell, Bacteria, Microbiology, Cell membrane, Secretion, Endoplasmic reticulum

28

It has recently been shown that the anti-mycobacterial pro-drug thiacetazone (TAC) inhibits the conversion of double bonds of mycolic acid precursors into cyclopropyl rings in Mycobacterium bovis var BCG, M. marimum and M. chelonae by affecting the cyclopropyl mycolic acid synthases (CMASs) as judged by the build-up of unsaturated mycolate precursors. In our hands, TAC inhibits mycolic acid biosynthesis in Mycobacterium tuberculosis and M. kansasii with almost negligible accumulation of those precursors. Our observations that ‘de novo’ biosynthesis of all the mycolic acid families decreased upon TAC treatment prompted us to analyse the role of each one of the Type II Fatty Acid Synthase (FASII) enzymes. Overexpression of the hadABC operon, encoding the essential FASII dehydratase complex, but not of any of the remaining FASII genes acting on the elongation of fatty acyl chains leading to the synthesis of meromycolic acids, resulted in high level of resistance to TAC in M. tuberculosis. Spontaneous M. tuberculosis and M. kansasii TAC-resistant mutants isolated during this work revealed mutations in the hadABC genes strongly supporting our proposal that these enzymes are new players in the resistance to this anti-mycobacterial compound.

Concepts: Fatty acid, Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Fatty acid synthase, Corynebacterineae, Acid fast bacilli, Mycobacterium kansasii

28

The mechanisms driving bacterial chromosome segregation remain poorly characterized. While a number of factors influencing chromosome segregation have been described in recent years, none of them appeared to play an essential role in the process comparable to the eukaryotic centromere / spindle complex. The research community involved in bacterial chromosome was becoming familiar with the fact that bacteria have selected multiple redundant systems to ensure correct chromosome segregation. Over the past few years a new perspective came out, that entropic forces generated by the confinement of the chromosome in the crowded nucleoid shell could be sufficient to segregate the chromosome. The segregating factors would only be required to create adequate conditions for entropy to do its job. In the article by Yazdi and collaborators, in this issue of Molecular Microbiology, this model was challenged experimentally in live E. coli cells. A Fis-GFP fusion was used to follow nucleoid choreography and analyze it from a polymer physics perspective. Their results suggest strongly that E. coli nucleoids behave as self-adherent polymers. Such a structuring and the specific segregation patterns observed do not support an entropic like segregation model. Are we back to the pre-entropic era ?

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Bacteria, Microbiology, Chromosome, Polymer, Prokaryote, Nucleoid

28

A putative operon encoding an uncharacterized ferrous iron transport (FtrABCD) system was previously identified in cDNA microarray studies. In growth studies using buffered medium at pH values ranging from pH 6.0 to 7.6, Bordetella pertussis and Bordetella bronchiseptica FtrABCD system mutants showed dramatic reductions in growth yields under iron-restricted conditions at pH 6.0, but had no growth defects at pH 7.6. Supplementation of culture medium with 2 mM ascorbate reductant was inhibitory to alcaligin siderophore-dependent growth at pH 7.6, but had a neglible effect on FtrABCD system-dependent iron assimilation at pH 6.0 consistent with its predicted specificity for ferrous iron. Unlike Bordetella siderophore-dependent and haem iron transport systems, and in agreement with its hypothesized role in transport of inorganic iron from periplasm to cytoplasm, FtrABCD system function did not require the TonB energy transduction complex. Gene fusion analysis revealed that ftrABCD promoter activity was maximal under iron-restricted growth conditions at acidic pH. The pH of human airway surface fluids ranges from pH 5.5 to 7.9, and the FtrABCD system may supply ferrous iron necessary for Bordetella growth in acidic host microenvironments in which siderophores are ineffective for iron retrieval.

Concepts: DNA, Iron, PH, Bordetella pertussis, Burkholderiales, Bordetella parapertussis, Bordetella, Bordetella bronchiseptica

28

The bioluminescence emitted by the marine bacterium Vibrio fischeri is a particularly striking result of individual microbial cells co-ordinating a group behaviour. The genes responsible for light production are principally regulated by the LuxR-LuxI quorum-sensing system. In addition to LuxR-LuxI, numerous other genetic elements and environmental conditions control bioluminescence production. Efforts to mathematically model the LuxR-LuxI system are providing insight into the dynamics of this autoinduction behaviour. The Hawaiian squid Euprymna scolopes forms a natural symbiosis with V. fischeri, and utilizes the symbiont-derived bioluminescence for certain nocturnal behaviours, such as counterillumination. Recent work suggests that the tissue with which V. fischeri associates not only can detect bioluminescence but may also use this light to monitor the V. fischeri population.

Concepts: Bacteria, Model organism, Quorum sensing, Bioluminescence, Vibrio, Vibrio fischeri, Hawaiian Bobtail Squid, Bobtail squid