The Burkholderia pseudomallei K96243 genome encodes six type VI secretion systems (T6SSs), but little is known about the role of these systems in the biology of B. pseudomallei. In this study, we purified recombinant Hcp proteins from each T6SS and tested them as vaccine candidates in the BALB/c mouse model of melioidosis. Recombinant Hcp2 protected 80% of mice against a lethal challenge with K96243, while recombinant Hcp1, Hcp3, and Hcp6 protected 50% of mice against challenge. Hcp6 was the only Hcp constitutively produced by B. pseudomallei in vitro; however, it was not exported to the extracellular milieu. Hcp1, on the other hand, was produced and exported in vitro when the VirAG two-component regulatory system was overexpressed in trans. We also constructed six hcp deletion mutants (?hcp1 through ?hcp6) and tested them for virulence in the Syrian hamster model of infection. The 50% lethal doses (LD(50)s) for the ?hcp2 through ?hcp6 mutants were indistinguishable from K96243 (<10 bacteria), but the LD(50) for the ?hcp1 mutant was >10(3) bacteria. The hcp1 deletion mutant also exhibited a growth defect in RAW 264.7 macrophages and was unable to form multinucleated giant cells in this cell line. Unlike K96243, the ?hcp1 mutant was only weakly cytotoxic to RAW 264.7 macrophages 18 h after infection. The results suggest that the cluster 1 T6SS is essential for virulence and plays an important role in the intracellular lifestyle of B. pseudomallei.
Capsule depolymerase (CapD) is a gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase and a product of the Bacillus anthracis capsule biosynthesis operon. In this study, we examined the effect of modulating capD expression on B. anthracis capsule phenotype, interaction with phagocytic cells and virulence in guinea pigs. Transcriptional fusions of capD were made to the genes encoding heat-shock protein 60 (hsp60) and elongation factor Tu (EFTu), and to capA, a B. anthracis capsule biosynthesis gene. Translation signals were altered to improve expression of capD, including replacing the putative ribosome-binding site with a consensus sequence and the TTG start codon with ATG. CapD was not detected by immunoblotting in lysates from wild-type B. anthracis Ames but was detected in strains engineered with a consensus ribosome-binding site for capD. Strains overexpressing capD at amounts detected by immunoblotting were found to have less surface-associated capsule and released primarily lower-molecular-mass capsule into culture supernatants. Overexpression of capD increased susceptibility to neutrophil phagocytic killing and adherence to macrophages and resulted in reduced fitness in a guinea pig model of infection. These data suggest that B. anthracis may have evolved weak capD expression resulting in optimized capsule-mediated virulence.
?-Glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT) is a two-substrate enzyme that plays a central role in glutathione metabolism and is a potential target for drug design. GGT catalyzes the cleavage of ?-glutamyl donor substrates and the transfer of the ?-glutamyl moiety to an amine of an acceptor substrate or water. Although structures of bacterial GGT have revealed details of the protein-ligand interactions at the donor site, the acceptor substrate site is relatively undefined. The recent identification of a species-specific acceptor site inhibitor, OU749, suggests that these inhibitors may be less toxic than glutamine analogues. Here we investigated the donor and acceptor substrate preferences of Bacillus anthracis GGT (CapD) and applied computational approaches in combination with kinetics to probe the structural basis of the enzymes substrate and inhibitor binding specificities and compare them with human GGT. Site-directed mutagenesis studies showed that the R432A and R520S variants exhibited 6- and 95-fold decreases in hydrolase activity, respectively, and that their activity was not stimulated by the addition of the l-Cys acceptor substrate, suggesting an additional role in acceptor binding and/or catalysis of transpeptidation. Rat GGT (and presumably HuGGT) has strict stereospecificity for L-amino acid acceptor substrates, while CapD can utilize both L- and D-acceptor substrates comparably. Modeling and kinetic analysis suggest that R520 and R432 allow two alternate acceptor substrate binding modes for L- and D-acceptors. R432 is conserved in Francisella tularensis, Yersinia pestis, Burkholderia mallei, Helicobacter pylori and Escherichia coli, but not in human GGT. Docking and MD simulations point toward key residues that contribute to inhibitor and acceptor substrate binding, providing a guide to designing novel and specific GGT inhibitors.
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