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Journal of Bacteriology

American Society for Microbiology


ISSN: 0021-9193 (1067-8832, 1098-5530)
Microbiology - Microbiology - Molecular Biology
APC costs unknown

Recent articles

1 show abstract
Large-scale shotgun sequencing (RNA-seq) analysis of mRNAs in dormant Bacillus subtilis spores prepared on plates or in liquid generally found the same ~46 abundant mRNA species, with >250 mRNAs detected at much lower abundances. Knowledge of the amount of phosphate in a single B. subtilis spore allowed calculation of the amount of mRNA in an individual spore as ~106 nucleotides (nt). Given the levels of abundant spore mRNAs compared to those of other mRNAs, it was calculated that the great majority of low-abundance mRNAs are present in only small fractions of spores in populations. Almost all of the most abundant spore mRNAs are encoded by genes expressed late in sporulation in the developing spore under the control of the forespore-specific RNA polymerase sigma factor, G, and most of the encoded proteins are in spores. Levels of the most abundant spore mRNAs were also relatively stable for a week at 4°C after spore harvest. RNA-seq analysis of mRNAs in highly purified and less-well-purified spores made in liquid, as well as from spores that were chemically decoated to remove possible contaminating mRNA, indicated that low-abundance mRNAs in spores were not contaminants in purified spore preparations, and several sources of low-abundance mRNAs in spores are suggested. The function of at least the great majority of spore mRNAs seems most likely to be the generation of ribonucleotides for new RNA synthesis by their degradation early in spore revival.

IMPORTANCE Previous work indicates that dormant Bacillus subtilis spores have many hundreds of mRNAs, some of which are suggested to play roles in spores’ "return to life" or revival. The present work finds only ~46 mRNAs at ≥1 molecule spore, with others in only fractions of spores in populations, often very small fractions. Less-abundant spore mRNAs are not contaminants in spore preparations, but how spores accumulate them is not clear. Almost all abundant spore mRNAs are synthesized in the developing spore late in its development, most encode proteins in spores, and abundant mRNAs in spores are relatively stable at 4°C. These findings will have a major impact on thinking about the roles that spore mRNAs may play in spore revival.
2 show abstract

Article URL: http://jb.asm.org/cgi/content/short/201/9/masthead-201-9?rss=1
Citation: Vol 201 No. 9 (2019) pp masthead-2 masthead-2
Publication Date: 2019-04-09T08:00:30-07:00
Journal: Journal of Bacteriology
3 show abstract
The mutualistic symbiont Vibrio fischeri builds a symbiotic biofilm during colonization of squid hosts. Regulation of the exopolysaccharide component, termed Syp, has been examined in strain ES114, where production is controlled by a phosphorelay that includes the inner membrane hybrid histidine kinase RscS. Most strains that lack RscS or encode divergent RscS proteins cannot colonize a squid host unless RscS from a squid symbiont is heterologously expressed. In this study, we examine V. fischeri isolates worldwide to understand the landscape of biofilm regulation during beneficial colonization. We provide a detailed study of three distinct evolutionary groups of V. fischeri and find that while the RscS-Syp biofilm pathway is required in one of the groups, two other groups of squid symbionts require Syp independent of RscS. Mediterranean squid symbionts, including V. fischeri SR5, colonize without an RscS homolog encoded by their genome. Additionally, group A V. fischeri strains, which form a tightly related clade of Hawaii isolates, have a frameshift in rscS and do not require the gene for squid colonization or competitive fitness. These same strains have a frameshift in sypE, and we provide evidence that this group A sypE allele leads to an upregulation in biofilm activity. Thus, this work describes the central importance of Syp biofilm in colonization of diverse isolates and demonstrates that significant evolutionary transitions correspond to regulatory changes in the syp pathway.

IMPORTANCE Biofilms are surface-associated, matrix-encased bacterial aggregates that exhibit enhanced protection to antimicrobial agents. Previous work has established the importance of biofilm formation by a strain of luminous Vibrio fischeri bacteria as the bacteria colonize their host, the Hawaiian bobtail squid. In this study, expansion of this work to many natural isolates revealed that biofilm genes are universally required, yet there has been a shuffling of the regulators of those genes. This work provides evidence that even when bacterial behaviors are conserved, dynamic regulation of those behaviors can underlie evolution of the host colonization phenotype. Furthermore, this work emphasizes the importance of investigating natural diversity as we seek to understand molecular mechanisms in bacteria.
4 show abstract
During stress, bacterial cells activate a conserved pathway called the stringent response that promotes survival. Polyphosphates are long chains of inorganic phosphates that modulate this response in diverse bacterial species. In this issue, Michael J. Gray provides an important correction to the model of how polyphosphate accumulation is regulated during the stringent response in Escherichia coli (M. J. Gray, J. Bacteriol, 201:e00664-18, 2019, https://doi.org/10.1128/JB.00664-18). With other recent publications, this study provides a revised framework for understanding how bacterial polyphosphate dynamics might be exploited in infection control and industrial applications.
5 show abstract
Staphylococcus aureus causes a wide spectrum of disease, with the site and severity of infection dependent on virulence traits encoded within genetically distinct clonal complexes (CCs) and bacterial responses to host innate immunity. The production of nitric oxide (NO) by activated phagocytes is a major host response to which S. aureus metabolically adapts through multiple strategies that are conserved in all CCs, including an S. aureus nitric oxide synthase (Nos). Previous genome analysis of CC30, a lineage associated with chronic endocardial and osteoarticular infections, revealed a putative NO reductase (Nor) not found in other CCs that potentially contributes to NO resistance and clinical outcome. Here, we demonstrate that Nor has true nitric oxide reductase activity, with nor expression enhanced by NO stress and anaerobic growth. Furthermore, we demonstrate that nor is regulated by MgrA and SrrAB, which modulate S. aureus virulence and hypoxic response. Transcriptome analysis of the S. aureus UAMS-1, UAMS-1 nor, and UAMS-1 nos strains under NO stress and anaerobic growth demonstrates that Nor contributes to nucleotide metabolism and Nos to glycolysis. We demonstrate that Nor and Nos contribute to enhanced survival in the presence of human human polymorphonuclear cells and have organ-specific seeding in a tail vein infection model. Nor contributes to abscess formation in an osteological implant model. We also demonstrate that Nor has a role in S. aureus metabolism and virulence. The regulation overlap between Nor and Nos points to an intriguing link between regulation of intracellular NO, metabolic adaptation, and persistence in the CC30 lineage.

IMPORTANCE Staphylococcus aureus can cause disease at most body sites, and illness spans asymptomatic infection to death. The variety of clinical presentations is due to the diversity of strains, which are grouped into distinct clonal complexes (CCs) based on genetic differences. The ability of S. aureus CC30 to cause chronic infections relies on its ability to evade the oxidative/nitrosative defenses of the immune system and survive under different environmental conditions, including differences in oxygen and nitric oxide concentrations. The significance of this work is the exploration of unique genes involved in resisting NO stress and anoxia. A better understanding of the functions that control the response of S. aureus CC30 to NO and oxygen will guide the treatment of severe disease presentations.
6 show abstract

Article URL: http://jb.asm.org/cgi/content/short/201/9/e00169-19?rss=1
Citation: Vol 201 No. 9 (2019) pp e00169-19 e00169-19
Publication Date: 2019-04-09T08:00:30-07:00
Journal: Journal of Bacteriology
7 show abstract
Prophage-mediated horizontal gene transfer (HGT) plays a key role in the evolution of bacteria, enabling access to new environmental niches, including pathogenicity. Citrobacter rodentium is a host-adapted intestinal mouse pathogen and important model organism for attaching and effacing (A/E) pathogens, including the clinically significant enterohaemorrhagic and enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (EHEC and EPEC, respectively). Even though C. rodentium contains 10 prophage genomic regions, including an active temperate phage, NP, little was known regarding the nature of C. rodentium prophages in the bacterium’s evolution toward pathogenicity. In this study, our characterization of NP led to the discovery of a second, fully functional temperate phage, named SM. We identify the bacterial host receptor for both phages as lipopolysaccharide (LPS). NP and SM are likely important mediators of HGT in C. rodentium. Bioinformatic analysis of the 10 prophage regions reveals cargo genes encoding known virulence factors, including several type III secretion system (T3SS) effectors. C. rodentium prophages are conserved across a wide range of pathogenic enteric bacteria, including EPEC and EHEC as well as pathogenic strains of Salmonella enterica, Shigella boydii, and Klebsiella pneumoniae. Phylogenetic analysis of core enteric backbone genes compared against prophage evolutionary models suggests that these prophages represent an important, conserved family of horizontally acquired enteric-bacterium-associated pathogenicity determinants. In addition to highlighting the transformative role of bacteriophage-mediated HGT in C. rodentium’s evolution toward pathogenicity, these data suggest that the examination of conserved families of prophages in other pathogenic bacteria and disease outbreaks might provide deeper evolutionary and pathological insights otherwise obscured by more classical analysis.

IMPORTANCE Bacteriophages are obligate intracellular parasites of bacteria. Some bacteriophages can confer novel bacterial phenotypes, including pathogenicity, through horizontal gene transfer (HGT). The pathogenic bacterium Citrobacter rodentium infects mice using mechanisms similar to those employed by human gastrointestinal pathogens, making it an important model organism. Here, we examined the 10 prophages of C. rodentium, investigating their roles in its evolution toward virulence. We characterized NP and SM, two endogenous active temperate bacteriophages likely important for HGT. We showed that the 10 prophages encode predicted virulence factors and are conserved within other intestinal pathogens. Phylogenetic analysis suggested that they represent a conserved family of horizontally acquired enteric-bacterium-associated pathogenic determinants. Consequently, similar analysis of prophage elements in other pathogens might further understanding of their evolution and pathology.
8 show abstract
Erwinia amylovora is the causal agent of fire blight of apple and pear trees. Several bacteria have been shown to produce antibiotics that antagonize E. amylovora, including pantocins, herbicolins, dapdiamides, and the vinylglycines, 4-formylaminooxyvinylglycine (FVG) and 4-aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG). Pantoea ananatis BRT175 was previously shown to exhibit antibiotic activity against E. amylovora via the production of Pantoea natural product 1 (PNP-1), later shown to be FVG; however, exposure of E. amylovora to FVG results in spontaneously resistant mutants. To identify the mechanism of resistance, we used genome variant analysis on spontaneous FVG-resistant mutants of E. amylovora and identified null mutations in the l-asparagine permease gene ansP. Heterologous expression of ansP in normally resistant Escherichia coli was sufficient to impart FVG susceptibility, suggesting that FVG is imported through this permease. Because FVG and AVG are structurally similar, we hypothesized that resistance to AVG would also be conferred through inactivation of ansP; however, ansP mutants were not resistant to AVG. We found that spontaneously resistant Ea321 mutants also arise in the presence of AVG, with whole-genome variant analysis revealing that resistance was due to inactivation of the arginine ABC transporter permease subunit gene artQ. Heterologous expression of the predicted lysE-like transporter encoded within the Pantoea ananatis BRT175 FVG biosynthetic cluster, which is likely responsible for antibiotic export, was sufficient to confer resistance to both FVG and AVG. This work highlights the important roles of amino acid transporters in antibiotic import into bacteria and the potential utility of antimicrobial amino acid analogs as antibiotics.

IMPORTANCE The related antibiotics formylaminooxyvinylglycine (FVG) and aminoethoxyvinylglycine (AVG) have been shown to have activity against the fire blight pathogen Erwinia amylovora; however, E. amylovora can develop spontaneous resistance to these antibiotics. By comparing the genomes of mutants to those of the wild type, we found that inactivation of the l-asparagine transporter conferred resistance to FVG, while inactivation of the l-arginine transporter conferred resistance to AVG. We also show that the transporter encoded by the FVG biosynthetic cluster can confer resistance to both FVG and AVG. Our work indicates the important role that amino acid transporters play in the import of antibiotics and highlights the possible utility in designer antibiotics that enter the bacterial cell through amino acid transporters.
9 show abstract
Production of inorganic polyphosphate (polyP) by bacteria is triggered by a variety of different stress conditions. polyP is required for stress survival and virulence in diverse pathogenic microbes. Previous studies have hypothesized a model for regulation of polyP synthesis in which production of the stringent-response second messenger (p)ppGpp directly stimulates polyP accumulation. In this work, I have now shown that this model is incorrect, and (p)ppGpp is not required for polyP synthesis in Escherichia coli. However, stringent mutations of RNA polymerase that frequently arise spontaneously in strains defective in (p)ppGpp synthesis and null mutations of the stringent-response-associated transcription factor DksA both strongly inhibit polyP accumulation. The loss of polyP synthesis in a mutant lacking DksA was reversed by deletion of the transcription elongation factor GreA, suggesting that competition between these proteins for binding to the secondary channel of RNA polymerase plays an important role in controlling polyP activation. These results provide new insights into the poorly understood regulation of polyP synthesis in bacteria and indicate that the relationship between polyP and the stringent response is more complex than previously suspected.

IMPORTANCE Production of polyP in bacteria is required for virulence and stress response, but little is known about how bacteria regulate polyP levels in response to changes in their environments. Understanding this regulation is important for understanding how pathogenic microbes resist killing by disinfectants, antibiotics, and the immune system. In this work, I have clarified the connections between polyP regulation and the stringent response to starvation stress in Escherichia coli and demonstrated an important and previously unknown role for the transcription factor DksA in controlling polyP levels.
10 show abstract
Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses quorum sensing (QS) to regulate the production of a battery of secreted products. At least some of these products are shared among the population and serve as public goods. When P. aeruginosa is grown on casein as the sole carbon and energy source, the QS-induced extracellular protease elastase is required for growth. We isolated a P. aeruginosa variant, which showed increased production of QS-induced factors after repeated transfers in casein broth. This variant, P. aeruginosa QS*, had a mutation in the glutathione synthesis gene gshA. We describe several experiments that show a gshA coding variant and glutathione affect the QS response. The P. aeruginosa QS transcription factor LasR has a redox-sensitive cysteine (C79). We report that GshA variant cells with a LasR C79S substitution show a similar QS response to that of wild-type P. aeruginosa. Surprisingly, it is not LasR but the QS transcription factor RhlR that is more active in bacteria containing the variant gshA. Our results demonstrate that QS integrates information about cell density and the cellular redox state via glutathione levels.

IMPORTANCE Pseudomonas aeruginosa and other bacteria coordinate group behaviors using a chemical communication system called quorum sensing (QS). The QS system of P. aeruginosa is complex, with several regulators and signals. We show that decreased levels of glutathione lead to increased gene activation in P. aeruginosa, which did not occur in a strain carrying the redox-insensitive variant of a transcription factor. The ability of P. aeruginosa QS transcription factors to integrate information about cell density and cellular redox state shows these transcription factors can fine-tune levels of the gene products they control in response to at least two types of signals or cues.
11 show abstract
tRNAs play a critical role in mRNA decoding, and posttranscriptional modifications within tRNAs drive decoding efficiency and accuracy. The types and positions of tRNA modifications in model bacteria have been extensively studied, and tRNA modifications in a few eukaryotic organisms have also been characterized and localized to particular tRNA sequences. However, far less is known regarding tRNA modifications in archaea. While the identities of modifications have been determined for multiple archaeal organisms, Haloferax volcanii is the only organism for which modifications have been extensively localized to specific tRNA sequences. To improve our understanding of archaeal tRNA modification patterns and codon-decoding strategies, we have used liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry to characterize and then map posttranscriptional modifications on 34 of the 35 unique tRNA sequences of Methanocaldococcus jannaschii. A new posttranscriptionally modified nucleoside, 5-cyanomethyl-2-thiouridine (cnm5s2U), was discovered and localized to position 34. Moreover, data consistent with wyosine pathway modifications were obtained beyond the canonical tRNAPhe as is typical for eukaryotes. The high-quality mapping of tRNA anticodon loops enriches our understanding of archaeal tRNA modification profiles and decoding strategies.

IMPORTANCE While many posttranscriptional modifications in M. jannaschii tRNAs are also found in bacteria and eukaryotes, several that are unique to archaea were identified. By RNA modification mapping, the modification profiles of M. jannaschii tRNA anticodon loops were characterized, allowing a comparative analysis with H. volcanii modification profiles as well as a general comparison with bacterial and eukaryotic decoding strategies. This general comparison reveals that M. jannaschii, like H. volcanii, follows codon-decoding strategies similar to those used by bacteria, although position 37 appears to be modified to a greater extent than seen in H. volcanii.
12 show abstract
Bacillus subtilis phosphorylates sugars during or after their transport into the cell. Perturbation in the conversion of intracellular phosphosugars to the central carbon metabolites and accumulation of phosphosugars can impose stress on the cells. In this study, we investigated the effect of phosphosugar stress on B. subtilis. Preliminary experiments indicated that the nonmetabolizable analogs of glucose were unable to impose stress on B. subtilis. In contrast, deletion of manA encoding mannose 6-phosphate isomerase (responsible for conversion of mannose 6-phosphate to fructose 6-phosphate) resulted in growth arrest and bulged cell shape in the medium containing mannose. Besides, an operon encoding a repressor (GlcR) and a haloic acid dehalogenase (HAD)-like phosphatase (PhoC; previously YwpJ) were upregulated. Integration of the P
glcR-lacZ cassette into different mutational backgrounds indicated that P
is induced when (i) a manA-deficient strain is cultured with mannose or (ii) when glcR is deleted. GlcR repressed the transcription of glcR-phoC by binding to the A-type core elements of P
. An electrophoretic mobility shift assay showed no interaction between mannose 6-phosphate (or other phosphosugars) and the GlcR-P
DNA complex. PhoC was an acid phosphatase mainly able to dephosphorylate glycerol 3-phosphate and ribose 5-phosphate. Mannose 6-phosphate was only weakly dephosphorylated by PhoC. Since deletion of glcR and phoC alone or in combination had no effect on the cells during phosphosugar stress, it is assumed that the derepression of glcR-phoC is a side effect of phosphosugar stress in B. subtilis.

IMPORTANCE Bacillus subtilis has different stress response systems to cope with external and internal stressors. Here, we investigated how B. subtilis deals with the high intracellular concentration of phosphosugars as an internal stressor. The results indicated the derepression of an operon consisting of a repressor (GlcR) and a phosphatase (PhoC). Further analysis revealed that this operon is not a phosphosugar stress response system. The substrate specificity of PhoC may indicate a connection between the glcR-phoC operon and pathways in which glycerol 3-phosphate and ribose 5-phosphate are utilized, such as membrane biosynthesis and teichoic acid elongation.
13 show abstract
Lysine acetylation is thought to provide a mechanism for regulating metabolism in diverse bacteria. Indeed, many studies have shown that the majority of enzymes involved in central metabolism are acetylated and that acetylation can alter enzyme activity. However, the details regarding this regulatory mechanism are still unclear, specifically with regard to the signals that induce lysine acetylation. To better understand this global regulatory mechanism, we profiled changes in lysine acetylation during growth of Escherichia coli on the hexose glucose or the pentose xylose at both high and low sugar concentrations using label-free mass spectrometry. The goal was to see whether lysine acetylation differed during growth on these two different sugars. No significant differences, however, were observed. Rather, the initial sugar concentration was the principal factor governing changes in lysine acetylation, with higher sugar concentrations causing more acetylation. These results suggest that acetylation does not target specific metabolic pathways but rather simply targets accessible lysines, which may or may not alter enzyme activity. They further suggest that lysine acetylation principally results from conditions that favor accumulation of acetyl phosphate, the principal acetate donor in E. coli.

IMPORTANCE Bacteria alter their metabolism in response to nutrient availability, growth conditions, and environmental stresses using a number of different mechanisms. One is lysine acetylation, a posttranslational modification known to target many metabolic enzymes. However, little is known about this regulatory mode. We investigated the factors inducing changes in lysine acetylation by comparing growth on glucose and xylose. We found that the specific sugar used for growth did not alter the pattern of acetylation; rather, the amount of sugar did, with more sugar causing more acetylation. These results imply that lysine acetylation is a global regulatory mechanism that is responsive not to the specific carbon source per se but rather to the accumulation of downstream metabolites.
14 show abstract
Bacteria sense environmental chemicals using chemosensor proteins, most of which are present in the cytoplasmic membrane. Canonical chemoreceptors bind their specific ligands in their periplasmic domain, and the ligand binding creates a molecular stimulus that is transmitted into the cytoplasm, leading to various cellular responses, such as chemotaxis and specific gene expression. Vibrio cholerae, the causative agent of cholera, contains about 44 putative sensor proteins, which are homologous to methyl-accepting chemotaxis proteins involved in chemotaxis. Two of them, Mlp24 and Mlp37, have been identified as chemoreceptors that mediate chemotactic responses to various amino acids. Although most of the residues of Mlp37 involved in ligand binding are conserved in Mlp24, these chemoreceptors bind the same ligands with different affinities. Moreover, they have distinct cellular roles. Here we determined a series of ligand complex structures of the periplasmic domains of Mlp24 (Mlp24p). The structures revealed that Ca2+ binds to the loop that forms the upper wall of the ligand-binding pocket. Ca2+ does not bind to the corresponding loop of Mlp37, implying that the structural difference of the loop may cause the ligand affinity difference. Isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) measurements indicated that Ca2+ changes the ligand binding affinity of Mlp24p. Furthermore, Ca2+ affected chemotactic behaviors to various amino acids mediated by Mlp24. Thus, Ca2+ is suggested to serve as a cosignal for the primary signal mediated by Mlp24p, and V. cholerae fine-tunes its chemotactic behavior depending on the Ca2+ concentration by modulating the ligand sensitivity of Mlp24.

IMPORTANCE Mlp24 and Mlp37 are homologous chemoreceptors of Vibrio cholerae that bind various amino acids. Although most of the residues involved in ligand interaction are conserved, these chemoreceptors show different affinities for the same ligand and play different cellular roles. A series of ligand complex structures of the periplasmic region of Mlp24 (Mlp24p) and following ITC analysis revealed that Ca2+ binds to the loop of Mlp24p and modulates the ligand binding affinity of Mlp24p. Moreover, Ca2+ changes the chemotactic behaviors mediated by Mlp24. We propose that Ca2+ acts as a cosignal that modulates the affinity of Mlp24 for the primary signal, thereby changing the chemotactic behavior of V. cholerae.
15 show abstract
Thymineless death (TLD) is a rapid loss of viability of unclear mechanism in cultures of thyA mutants starved for thymine/thymidine (T starvation). It is accepted that T starvation repeatedly breaks replication forks, while recombinational repair restores them, but when the resulting futile breakage-repair cycle affects the small replication bubbles at oriC, the origin is degraded, killing the cell. Indeed, cells with increased chromosomal replication complexity (CRC), expressed as an elevated origin/terminus (ori/ter) ratio, die more extensively during TLD. Here we tested this logic by elevating the CRC in Escherichia coli thyA mutants before T starvation, anticipating exaggerated TLD. Unexpectedly, TLD remained unaffected by a CRC increase to either the natural limit (ori/ter ratio, ~6) or the functional limit (ori/ter ratio, ~16). Moreover, when we forced the CRC over the functional limit (ori/ter ratio, ~30), TLD lessened. Thus, prior overinitiation does not sensitize cells to TLD. In contradiction with the published results, even blocking new replication initiations by the dnaA(Ts) defect at 42°C fails to prevent TLD. Using the thyA dnaA(Ts) mutant in a new T starvation protocol that excludes new initiations, we show that at 42°C, the same degree of TLD still occurs when chromosomes are demonstrably nonreplicating. Remarkably, 80% of the chromosomal DNA in these nonreplicating T-starved cells is still lost, by an unclear mechanism.

IMPORTANCE Thymineless death kills cells of any type and is used in anticancer and antimicrobial treatments. We tested the idea that the more replication forks there are in the chromosome during growth, the more extensive the resulting thymineless death. We varied the number of replication forks in the Escherichia coli chromosome, as measured by the origin-to-terminus ratio, ranging it from the normal 2 to 60, and even completely eliminated replication forks in the nonreplicating chromosomes (ori/ter ratio = 1). Unexpectedly, we found that thymineless death is unaffected by the intensity of replication or by its complete absence; we also found that even nonreplicating chromosomes still disappear during thymine starvation. We conclude that thymineless death can kill E. coli independently of chromosomal replication.
16 show abstract
Biofilm formation is a complex process that requires a number of transcriptional, proteomic, and physiological changes to enable bacterial survival. The lipid membrane presents a barrier to communication between the machinery within bacteria and the physical and chemical features of their extracellular environment, and yet little is known about how the membrane influences biofilm development. We found that depleting the anionic phospholipid cardiolipin reduces biofilm formation in Escherichia coli cells by as much as 50%. The absence of cardiolipin activates the regulation of colanic acid synthesis (Rcs) envelope stress response, which represses the production of flagella, disrupts initial biofilm attachment, and reduces biofilm growth. We demonstrate that a reduction in the concentration of cardiolipin impairs translocation of proteins across the inner membrane, which we hypothesize activates the Rcs pathway through the outer membrane lipoprotein RcsF. Our study demonstrates a molecular connection between the composition of membrane phospholipids and biofilm formation in E. coli and suggests that altering lipid biosynthesis may be a viable approach for altering biofilm formation and possibly other multicellular phenotypes related to bacterial adaptation and survival.

IMPORTANCE There is a growing interest in the role of lipid membrane composition in the physiology and adaptation of bacteria. We demonstrate that a reduction in the anionic phospholipid cardiolipin impairs biofilm formation in Escherichia coli cells. Depleting cardiolipin reduced protein translocation across the inner membrane and activated the Rcs envelope stress response. Consequently, cardiolipin depletion produced cells lacking assembled flagella, which impacted their ability to attach to surfaces and seed the earliest stage in biofilm formation. This study provides empirical evidence for the role of anionic phospholipid homeostasis in protein translocation and its effect on biofilm development and highlights modulation of the membrane composition as a potential method of altering bacterial phenotypes related to adaptation and survival.

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Author can (with restrictions) archive post-print (ie final draft post-refereeing) (6 months embargo)
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  • Author's post-print on funder's repositories, institutional repository or subject-based repositories, PubMed Central
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  • Publisher last contacted on 21/05/2015
  • Publisher last reviewed on 13/02/2019

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Journal Citation Reports (2017)

Impact factor: 3.219
Q2 (Microbiology (45/125))

Scopus Journal Metrics (2017)

SJR: 1.885
SNIP: 0.903
Impact (Scopus CiteScore): 0.294
Quartile: Q2
CiteScore percentile: 68%
CiteScore rank: 42 out of 134
Cited by WUR staff: 1236 times. (2014-2016)

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