Upon physical contact with sibling cells, myxobacteria transiently fuse their outer membranes (OMs) and exchange OM proteins and lipids. From previous work, TraA and TraB were identified to be essential factors for OM exchange (OME) in donor and recipient cells. To define the genetic complexity of OME, we carried out a comprehensive forward genetic screen. The screen was based on the observation that Myxococcus xanthus nonmotile cells, by a Tra-dependent mechanism, block swarm expansion of motile cells when mixed. Thus, mutants defective in OME or a downstream responsive pathway were readily identified as escape flares from mixed inocula seeded on agar. This screen was surprisingly powerful, as we found >50 mutants defective in OME. Importantly, all of the mutations mapped to the traAB operon, suggesting that there may be few, if any, proteins besides TraA and TraB directly required for OME. We also found a second and phenotypically different class of mutants that exhibited wild-type OME but were defective in a responsive pathway. This pathway is postulated to control inner membrane homeostasis by covalently attaching amino acids to phospholipids. The identified proteins are homologous to the Staphylococcus aureus MprF protein, which is involved in membrane adaptation and antibiotic resistance. Interestingly, we also found that a small number of nonmotile cells were sufficient to block the swarming behavior of a large gliding-proficient population. This result suggests that an OME-derived signal could be amplified from a few nonmotile producers to act on many responder cells.
Apoptosis is a critical process that intrinsically links organism survival to its ability to induce controlled death. Thus, functional apoptosis allows organisms to remove perceived threats to their survival by targeting those cells that it determines pose a direct risk. Central to this process are apoptotic caspases, enzymes that form a signalling cascade, converting danger signals via initiator caspases into activation of the executioner caspase, caspase-3. This enzyme begins disassembly of the cell by activating DNA degrading enzymes and degrading the cellular architecture. Interaction of pathogenic bacteria with caspases, and in particular, caspase-3, can therefore impact both host cell and bacterial survival. With roles outside cell death such as cell differentiation, control of signalling pathways and immunomodulation also being described for caspase-3, bacterial interactions with caspase-3 may be of far more significance in infection than previously recognized. In this review, we highlight the ways in which bacterial pathogens have evolved to subvert caspase-3 both through effector proteins that directly interact with the enzyme or by modulating pathways that influence its activation and activity.
Myxobacteria are social microbes that exhibit complex multicellular behaviors. By use of fluorescent reporters, we show that Myxococcus xanthus isolates produce long narrow filaments that are enclosed by the outer membrane (OM) and contain proteins. We show that these OM tube (OMT) structures are produced at surprisingly high levels when cells are placed in liquid medium or buffer without agitation. OMTs can be long and easily exceed multiple cell lengths. When viewed by transmission electron microscopy, their morphology varies between tubes and chain-like structures. Intermediate-like structures are also found, suggesting that OMTs may transition between these two morphotypes. In support of this, video epifluorescence microscopy found that OMTs in solution dynamically twist and jiggle. On hard surfaces, myxobacteria glide, and upon cell-cell contact, they can efficiently exchange their OM proteins and lipids by a TraAB-dependent mechanism. Although the structure of OMTs hints at a possible role as conduits for exchange, evidence is presented to the contrary. For example, abundant OMT production occurs in traA or traB mutants and when cells are grown in liquid medium, yet transfer cannot occur under these conditions. Thus, genetic and environmental conditions that promote OMT production are incongruent with OM exchange.
We recently showed that type II signal peptidase (SPaseII) encoded by lspA is the target of an antibiotic called TA (myxovirescin), which is made by Myxococcus xanthus. SPaseII cleaves the signal peptide during bacterial lipoprotein processing. Bacteria typically contain one lspA gene; however, strikingly, the M. xanthus DK1622 genome contains four (lspA1 to lspA4). Since two of these genes, lspA3 and lspA4, are located in the giant TA biosynthetic gene cluster, we hypothesized they may play a role in TA resistance. To investigate the functions of the four M. xanthus lspA (lspA(Mx)) genes, we conducted sequence comparisons and found that they contained nearly all the conserved residues characteristic of SPaseII family members. Genetic studies found that an Escherichia coli ?lspA mutation could be complemented by any of the lspA(Mx) genes in an lpp mutant background, but not in an E. coli lpp(+) background. Because Lpp is the most abundant E. coli lipoprotein, these results suggest the M. xanthus proteins do not function as efficiently as the host enzyme. In E. coli, overexpression of each of the LspA(Mx) proteins conferred TA and globomycin resistance, although LspA3 conferred the highest degree of resistance. In M. xanthus, each lspA(Mx) gene could be deleted and was therefore dispensable for growth. However, lspA3 or lspA4 deletion mutants each exhibited a tan phase variation bias, which likely accounts for their reduced-swarming and delayed-development phenotypes. In summary, we propose that all four LspA(Mx) proteins function as SPaseIIs and that LspA3 and LspA4 might also have roles in TA resistance and regulation, respectively.
Cell-cell recognition is a fundamental process that allows cells to coordinate multicellular behaviors. Some microbes, such as myxobacteria, build multicellular fruiting bodies from free-living cells. However, how bacterial cells recognize each other by contact is poorly understood. Here we show that myxobacteria engage in recognition through interactions between TraA cell surface receptors, which leads to the fusion and exchange of outer membrane (OM) components. OM exchange is shown to be selective among 17 environmental isolates, as exchange partners parsed into five major recognition groups. TraA is the determinant of molecular specificity because: (i) exchange partners correlated with sequence conservation within its polymorphic PA14-like domain and (ii) traA allele replacements predictably changed partner specificity. Swapping traA alleles also reprogrammed social interactions among strains, including the regulation of motility and conferred immunity from inter-strain killing. We suggest that TraA helps guide the transition of single cells into a coherent bacterial community, by a proposed mechanism that is analogous to mitochondrial fusion and fission cycling that mixes contents to establish a homogenous population. In evolutionary terms, traA functions as a rare greenbeard gene that recognizes others that bear the same allele to confer beneficial treatment.
Through cooperative interactions, bacteria can build multicellular communities. To ensure that productive interactions occur, bacteria must recognize their neighbours and respond accordingly. Molecular recognition between cells is thus a fundamental behaviour, and in bacteria important discoveries have been made. This MicroReview focuses on a recently described recognition system in myxobacteria that is governed by a polymorphic cell surface receptor called TraA. TraA regulates outer membrane exchange (OME), whereby myxobacterial cells transiently fuse their OMs to efficiently transfer proteins and lipids between cells. Unlike other transport systems, OME is rather indiscriminate in what OM goods are transferred. In contrast, the recognition of partnering cells is discriminatory and only occurs between cells that bear identical or closely related TraA proteins. Therefore TraA functions in kin recognition and, in turn, OME helps regulate social interactions between myxobacteria. Here, I discuss and speculate on the social and evolutionary implications of OME and suggest it helps to guide their transition from free-living cells into coherent and functional populations.
Adherent invasive Escherichia coli (AIEC) have been implicated as a causative agent of Crohns disease (CD) due to their isolation from the intestines of CD sufferers and their ability to persist in macrophages inducing granulomas. The rapid intracellular multiplication of AIEC sets it apart from other enteric pathogens such as Salmonella Typhimurium which after limited replication induce programmed cell death (PCD). Understanding the response of infected cells to the increased AIEC bacterial load and associated metabolic stress may offer insights into AIEC pathogenesis and its association with CD. Here we show that AIEC persistence within macrophages and dendritic cells is facilitated by increased proteasomal degradation of caspase-3. In addition S-nitrosylation of pro- and active forms of caspase-3, which can inhibit the enzymes activity, is increased in AIEC infected macrophages. This S-nitrosylated caspase-3 was seen to accumulate upon inhibition of the proteasome indicating an additional role for S-nitrosylation in inducing caspase-3 degradation in a manner independent of ubiquitination. In addition to the autophagic genetic defects that are linked to CD, this delay in apoptosis mediated in AIEC infected cells through increased degradation of caspase-3, may be an essential factor in its prolonged persistence in CD patients.
The present report examined the effects of midbrain raphe nuclei injections of nitric oxide synthase inhibitors NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester (L-NAME) and 7-nitroindazole (7-NI) on eating behavior. L-NAME (5-500 pmol) and 7-NI (2-200 pmol) were administered into either the dorsal or median raphe nucleus. Both nitric oxide synthase inhibitors decreased food intake in adult male Sprague-Dawley rats when injected into either raphe site. Further, eating elicited by dorsal and median raphe injections of the 5-HT1A agonist 8-OH-DPAT (0.8 nmol) was attenuated by L-NAME or 7-NI pretreatment. Our findings indicate that nitric oxide acts within the raphe to alter food intake. The inhibitory effects of L-NAME and 7-NI on eating elicited by 8-OH-DPAT further suggest that nitric oxide and 5-HT systems interact in the control of food intake.
Myxobacteria are predatory and are prolific producers of secondary metabolites. Here, we tested a hypothesized role that secondary metabolite antibiotics function as weapons in predation. To test this, a Myxococcus xanthus ?ta1 mutant, blocked in antibiotic TA (myxovirescin) production, was constructed. This TA(-) mutant was defective in producing a zone of inhibition (ZOI) against Escherichia coli. This shows that TA is the major M. xanthus-diffusible antibacterial agent against E. coli. Correspondingly, the TA(-) mutant was defective in E. coli killing. Separately, an engineered E. coli strain resistant to TA was shown to be resistant toward predation. Exogenous addition of spectinomycin, a bacteriostatic antibiotic, rescued the predation defect of the TA(-) mutant. In contrast, against Micrococcus luteus the TA(-) mutant exhibited no defect in ZOI or killing. Thus, TA plays a selective role on prey species. To extend these studies to other myxobacteria, the role of antibiotic corallopyronin production in predation was tested and also found to be required for Corallococcus coralloides killing on E. coli. Next, a role of TA production in myxobacterial fitness was assessed by measuring swarm expansion. Here, the TA(-) mutant had a specific swarm rate reduction on prey lawns, and thus reduced fitness, compared to an isogenic TA(+) strain. Based on these observations, we conclude that myxobacterial antibiotic production can function as a predatory weapon. To our knowledge, this is the first report to directly show a link between secondary metabolite production and predation.
Microbial biofilms represent heterogeneous populations of cells that form intimate contacts. Within these populations cells communicate, cooperate and compete. Myxobacteria are noted for their complex social interactions, including gliding motility and lipoprotein exchange. Here, we investigated cis protein sequence and cellular behaviour requirements for lipoprotein transfer between Myxococcus xanthus cells. Specifically, an outer membrane (OM) type II signal sequence (SS) fused to the heterologous mCherry fluorescent reporter resulted in OM localization. When donor cells harbouring SS(OM)-mCherry were mixed with GFP-labelled recipient cells they developed red fluorescence. Our results surprisingly showed that a type II SS for OM localization, but not inner membrane localization, was necessary and sufficient for rapid and efficient heterologous protein transfer. Importantly, transfer did not occur in liquid or on surfaces where cells were poorly aligned. We conclude that cell-cell contact and alignment is a critical step for lipoprotein exchange. We hypothesize that protein transfer facilitates cooperative myxobacteria behaviours.
The enteric pathogen Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium causes food poisoning resulting in gastroenteritis. The S. Typhimurium effector Salmonella invasion protein A (SipA) promotes gastroenteritis by functional motifs that trigger either mechanisms of inflammation or bacterial entry. During infection of intestinal epithelial cells, SipA was found to be responsible for the early activation of caspase-3, an enzyme that is required for SipA cleavage at a specific recognition motif that divided the protein into its two functional domains and activated SipA in a manner necessary for pathogenicity. Other caspase-3 cleavage sites identified in S. Typhimurium appeared to be restricted to secreted effector proteins, which indicates that this may be a general strategy used by this pathogen for processing of its secreted effectors.
When one considers the organism Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium), one usually thinks of the Gram-negative enteric pathogen that causes the severe food borne illness, gastroentertitis. In this context, the idea of Salmonella being exploited as a cancer therapeutic seems pretty remote. However, there has been an escalating interest in the development of tumor-therapeutic bacteria for use in the treatment of a variety of cancers. This strategy takes advantage of the remarkable ability of certain bacteria to preferentially replicate and accumulate within tumors. In the case of S. Typhimurium, this organism infects and selectively grows within implanted tumors, achieving tumor/normal tissue ratios of approximately 1,000:1. Salmonella also has some attractive properties well suited for the design of a chemotherapeutic agent. In particular, this pathogen can easily be manipulated to carry foreign genes, and since this species is a facultative anaerobe, it is able to survival in both oxygenated and hypoxic conditions, implying this organism could colonize both small metastatic lesions as well as larger tumors. These observations are the impetus to a burgeoning field focused on the development of Salmonella as a clinically useful anti-cancer agent. We will discuss three cutting edge technologies employing Salmonella to target tumors.
The widespread emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and a lack of new pharmaceutical development have catalyzed a need for new and innovative approaches for antibiotic drug discovery. One bottleneck in antibiotic discovery is the lack of a rapid and comprehensive method to identify compound mode of action (MOA). Since a hallmark of antibiotic action is as an inhibitor of essential cellular targets and processes, we identify a set of 308 essential genes in the clinically important pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. A total of 446 strains differentially expressing these genes were constructed in a comprehensive platform of sensitized and resistant strains. A subset of strains allows either target underexpression or target overexpression by heterologous promoter replacements with a suite of tetracycline-regulatable promoters. A further subset of 236 antisense RNA-expressing clones allows knockdown expression of cognate targets. Knockdown expression confers selective antibiotic hypersensitivity, while target overexpression confers resistance. The antisense strains were configured into a TargetArray in which pools of sensitized strains were challenged in fitness tests. A rapid detection method measures strain responses toward antibiotics. The TargetArray antibiotic fitness test results show mechanistically informative biological fingerprints that allow MOA elucidation.
Embryonic stem (ES) cells require a coordinated network of transcription factors to maintain pluripotency or trigger lineage specific differentiation. Central to these processes are the proteins Oct4, Nanog, and Sox2. Although the transcriptional targets of these factors have been extensively studied, very little is known about how the proteins themselves are regulated, especially at the post-translational level. Post-translational modifications are well documented to have broad effects on protein stability, activity, and cellular distribution. Here, we identify a key lysine residue in the nuclear export signal of Sox2 that is acetylated, and demonstrate that blocking acetylation at this site retains Sox2 in the nucleus and sustains expression of its target genes under hyperacetylation or differentiation conditions. Mimicking acetylation at this site promotes association of Sox2 with the nuclear export machinery. In addition, increased cellular acetylation leads to reduction in Sox2 levels by ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation, thus abrogating its ability to drive transcription of its target genes. Acetylation-mediated nuclear export may be a commonly used regulatory mechanism for many Sox family members, as this lysine is conserved across species and in orthologous proteins.
SIRT1 is a NAD-dependent deacetylase that regulates a variety of pathways including the stress protection pathway. SIRT1 deacetylates a number of protein substrates, including histones, FOXOs, PGC-1alpha, and p53, leading to cellular protection. We identified a functional interaction between cJUN N-terminal kinase (JNK1) and SIRT1 by coimmunoprecipitation of endogenous proteins. The interaction between JNK1 and SIRT1 was identified under conditions of oxidative stress and required activation of JNK1 via phosphorylation. Modulation of SIRT1 activity or protein levels using nicotinamide or RNAi did not modify JNK1 activity as measured by its ability to phosphorylate cJUN. In contrast, human SIRT1 was phosphorylated by JNK1 on three sites: Ser27, Ser47, and Thr530 and this phosphorylation of SIRT1 increased its nuclear localization and enzymatic activity. Surprisingly, JNK1 phosphorylation of SIRT1 showed substrate specificity resulting in deacetylation of histone H3, but not p53. These findings identify a mechanism for regulation of SIRT1 enzymatic activity in response to oxidative stress and shed new light on its role in the stress protection pathway.
Histone deacetylase 5 (HDAC5) represses expression of nuclear genes that promote cardiac hypertrophy. Agonism of a variety of G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) triggers phosphorylation-dependent nuclear export of HDAC5 via the CRM1 nuclear export receptor, resulting in derepression of pro-hypertrophic genes. A cell-based high-throughput screen of a commercial compound collection was employed to identify compounds with the ability to preserve the nuclear fraction of GFP-HDAC5 in primary cardiomyocytes exposed to GPCR agonists. A hit compound potently inhibited agonist-induced GFP-HDAC5 nuclear export in cultured neonatal rat ventricular myocytes (NRVMs). A small set of related compounds was designed and synthesized to evaluate structure-activity relationship (SAR). The results demonstrated that inhibition of HDAC5 nuclear export was a result of compounds irreversibly reacting with a key cysteine residue in CRM1 that is required for its function. CRM1 inhibition by the compounds also resulted in potent suppression of cardiomyocyte hypertrophy. These studies define a novel class of anti-hypertrophic compounds that function through irreversible inhibition of CRM1-dependent nuclear export.
Myxobacteria exhibit complex social traits during which large populations of cells coordinate their behaviors. An iconic example is their response to starvation: thousands of cells move by gliding motility to build a fruiting body in which vegetative cells differentiate into spores. Here we review mechanisms that the model species Myxococcus xanthus uses for cell-cell interactions, with a focus on developmental signaling and social gliding motility. We also discuss a newly discovered cell-cell interaction whereby myxobacteria exchange their outer membrane (OM) proteins and lipids. The mechanism of OM transfer requires physical contact between aligned cells on a hard surface and is apparently mediated by OM fusion. The TraA and TraB proteins are required in both donor and recipient cells for transfer, suggesting bidirectional exchange, and TraA is thought to serve as a cell surface adhesin. OM exchange results in phenotypic changes that can alter gliding motility and development and is proposed to represent a novel microbial interacting platform to coordinate multicellular activities.
Biofilms are dense microbial communities. Although widely distributed and medically important, how biofilm cells interact with one another is poorly understood. Recently, we described a novel process whereby myxobacterial biofilm cells exchange their outer membrane (OM) lipoproteins. For the first time we report here the identification of two host proteins, TraAB, required for transfer. These proteins are predicted to localize in the cell envelope; and TraA encodes a distant PA14 lectin-like domain, a cysteine-rich tandem repeat region, and a putative C-terminal protein sorting tag named MYXO-CTERM, while TraB encodes an OmpA-like domain. Importantly, TraAB are required in donors and recipients, suggesting bidirectional transfer. By use of a lipophilic fluorescent dye, we also discovered that OM lipids are exchanged. Similar to lipoproteins, dye transfer requires TraAB function, gliding motility and a structured biofilm. Importantly, OM exchange was found to regulate swarming and development behaviors, suggesting a new role in cell-cell communication. A working model proposes TraA is a cell surface receptor that mediates cell-cell adhesion for OM fusion, in which lipoproteins/lipids are transferred by lateral diffusion. We further hypothesize that cell contact-dependent exchange helps myxobacteria to coordinate their social behaviors.
Within Myxococcus xanthus biofilms, cells actively move and exchange their outer membrane (OM) lipoproteins and lipids. Between genetically distinct strains, OM exchange can regulate recipient cell behaviors, including gliding motility and development. Although many different proteins are thought to be exchanged, to date, only two endogenous OM lipoproteins, CglB and Tgl, are known to be transferred. Protein exchange requires the TraAB proteins in recipient and donor cells, where they are hypothesized to facilitate OM fusion for transfer. To better understand the types of proteins exchanged, we identified the genes for the remaining set of cgl gliding motility mutants. These mutants are unique because their motility defect can be transiently restored by physical contact with donor cells that encode the corresponding wild-type protein, a process called stimulation. Similar to CglB and Tgl, the cglC and cglD genes encode type II signal sequences, suggesting that they are also lipoproteins. Surprisingly, the cglE and cglF genes instead encode type I signal sequences, suggesting that nonlipoproteins are also exchanged. Consistent with this idea, the addition of exogenous synthetic CglF protein (71 amino acids) to a cglF mutant rescued its motility defect. In contrast to a live donor cell, stimulation with purified CglF protein occurred independently of TraA. These results also indicate that CglF may localize to the cell surface. The implications of our findings on OM exchange are discussed.
Antibiotic TA is a macrocyclic secondary metabolite produced by myxobacteria that has broad-spectrum bactericidal activity. The structure of TA is unique, and its molecular target is unknown. Here, we sought to elucidate TAs mode of action (MOA) through two parallel genetic approaches. First, chromosomal Escherichia coli TA-resistant mutants were isolated. One mutant that showed specific resistance toward TA was mapped and resulted from an IS4 insertion in the lpp gene, which encodes an abundant outer membrane (Brauns) lipoprotein. In a second approach, the comprehensive E. coli ASKA plasmid library was screened for overexpressing clones that conferred TA(r). This effort resulted in the isolation of the lspA gene, which encodes the type II signal peptidase that cleaves signal sequences from prolipoproteins. In whole cells, TA was shown to inhibit Lpp prolipoprotein processing, similar to the known LspA inhibitor globomycin. Based on genetic evidence and prior globomycin studies, a block in Lpp expression or prevention of Lpp covalent cell wall attachment confers TA(r) by alleviating a toxic buildup of mislocalized pro-Lpp. Taken together, these data argue that LspA is the molecular target of TA. Strikingly, the giant ta biosynthetic gene cluster encodes two lspA paralogs that we hypothesize play a role in producer strain resistance.
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