Ubiquinone (coenzyme Q or Q8) is a redox active lipid which functions in the respiratory electron transport chain and plays a crucial role in energy-generating processes. In both Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, the yigP gene is located between ubiE and ubiB, all three being likely to constitute an operon. In this work, we showed that the uncharacterized yigP gene was involved in Q8 biosynthesis in both strains, and we have renamed it ubiJ. Under aerobic conditions, an ubiJ mutant was found to be impaired for Q8 biosynthesis and for growth in rich medium but did not present any defect anaerobically. Surprisingly, the C-terminal 50 amino acids, predicted to interact with lipids, were sufficient to restore Q8 biosynthesis and growth of the ubiJ mutant. Salmonella ubiE and ubiB mutants were impaired in Q8 biosynthesis and in respiration using different electron acceptors. Moreover, ubiE, ubiJ, and ubiB mutants were all impaired for Salmonella intracellular proliferation in macrophages. Taken together, our data establish an important role for UbiJ in Q8 biosynthesis and reveal an unexpected link between Q8 and virulence. They also emphasize that Salmonella organisms in an intracellular lifestyle rely on aerobic respiration to survive and proliferate within macrophages.
During the course of infection, Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium must successively survive the harsh acid stress of the stomach and multiply into a mild acidic compartment within macrophages. Inducible amino acid decarboxylases are known to promote adaptation to acidic environments. Three low pH inducible amino acid decarboxylases were annotated in the genome of S. Typhimurium, AdiA, CadA and SpeF, which are specific for arginine, lysine and ornithine, respectively. In this study, we characterized and compared the contributions of those enzymes in response to acidic challenges. Individual mutants as well as a strain deleted for the three genes were tested for their ability (i) to survive an extreme acid shock, (ii) to grow at mild acidic pH and (iii) to infect the mouse animal model. We showed that the lysine decarboxylase CadA had the broadest range of activity since it both had the capacity to promote survival at pH 2.3 and growth at pH 4.5. The arginine decarboxylase AdiA was the most performant in protecting S. Typhimurium from a shock at pH 2.3 and the ornithine decarboxylase SpeF conferred the best growth advantage under anaerobiosis conditions at pH 4.5. We developed a GFP-based gene reporter to monitor the pH of the environment as perceived by S. Typhimurium. Results showed that activities of the lysine and ornithine decarboxylases at mild acidic pH did modify the local surrounding of S. Typhimurium both in culture medium and in macrophages. Finally, we tested the contribution of decarboxylases to virulence and found that these enzymes were dispensable for S. Typhimurium virulence during systemic infection. In the light of this result, we examined the genomes of Salmonella spp. normally responsible of systemic infection and observed that the genes encoding these enzymes were not well conserved, supporting the idea that these enzymes may be not required during systemic infection.
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