Type II secretion systems (T2SSs) generally release their substrates into the culture medium. A few T2SS substrates remain anchored to or bound at the surface of the bacteria after secretion. Since they handle already folded proteins, T2SSs are the best way for bacteria to target, at their surface, proteins containing a cofactor, proteins that have to be folded in the cytoplasm or in the periplasm, or multimeric proteins. However, how a T2SS deals with membrane-anchored proteins is not yet understood. While this type of protein has until now been overlooked, new proteomic approaches will facilitate its identification.
The plant pathogenic bacterium Dickeya dadantii has recently been shown to be able to kill the aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. While the factors required to cause plant disease are now well characterized, those required for insect pathogeny remain mostly unknown. To identify these factors, we analyzed the transcriptome of the bacteria isolated from infected aphids. More than 150 genes were upregulated and 300 downregulated more than 5-fold at 3 days post infection. No homologue to known toxin genes could be identified in the upregulated genes. The upregulated genes reflect the response of the bacteria to the conditions encountered inside aphids. While only a few genes involved in the response to oxidative stress were induced, a strong defense against antimicrobial peptides (AMP) was induced. Expression of a great number of efflux proteins and transporters was increased. Besides the genes involved in LPS modification by addition of 4-aminoarabinose (the arnBCADTEF operon) and phosphoethanolamine (pmrC, eptB) usually induced in Gram negative bacteria in response to AMPs, dltBAC and pbpG genes, which confer Gram positive bacteria resistance to AMPs by adding alanine to teichoic acids, were also induced. Both types of modification confer D. dadantii resistance to the AMP polymyxin. A. pisum harbors symbiotic bacteria and it is thought that it has a very limited immune system to maintain these populations and do not synthesize AMPs. The arnB mutant was less pathogenic to A. pisum, which suggests that, in contrast to what has been supposed, aphids do synthesize AMP.
Fossil records indicate that life appeared in marine environments ?3.5 billion years ago (Gyr) and transitioned to terrestrial ecosystems nearly 2.5 Gyr. Sequence analysis suggests that "hydrobacteria" and "terrabacteria" might have diverged as early as 3 Gyr. Bacteria of the genus Azospirillum are associated with roots of terrestrial plants; however, virtually all their close relatives are aquatic. We obtained genome sequences of two Azospirillum species and analyzed their gene origins. While most Azospirillum house-keeping genes have orthologs in its close aquatic relatives, this lineage has obtained nearly half of its genome from terrestrial organisms. The majority of genes encoding functions critical for association with plants are among horizontally transferred genes. Our results show that transition of some aquatic bacteria to terrestrial habitats occurred much later than the suggested initial divergence of hydro- and terrabacterial clades. The birth of the genus Azospirillum approximately coincided with the emergence of vascular plants on land.
Dickeya dadantii is a plant-pathogenic enterobacterium responsible for the soft rot disease of many plants of economic importance. We present here the sequence of strain 3937, a strain widely used as a model system for research on the molecular biology and pathogenicity of this group of bacteria.
The plant pathogenic bacteria Dickeya dadantii is also a pathogen of the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum. The genome of the bacteria contains four cyt genes, encoding homologues of Bacillus thuringiensis Cyt toxins, which are involved in its pathogenicity to insects. We show here that these genes are transcribed as an operon, and we determined the conditions necessary for their expression. Their expression is induced at high temperature and at an osmolarity equivalent to that found in the plant phloem sap. The regulators of cyt genes have also been identified: their expression is repressed by H-NS and VfmE and activated by PecS. These genes are already known to regulate plant virulence factors, but in an opposite way. When tested in a virulence assay by ingestion, the pecS mutant was almost non-pathogenic while hns and vfmE mutants behaved in the same way as the wild-type strain. Mutants of other regulators of plant virulence, GacA, OmpR and PhoP, that do not control Cyt toxin production, also showed reduced pathogenicity. In an assay by injection of bacteria, the gacA strain was less pathogenic but, surprisingly, the pecS mutant was slightly more virulent. These results show that Cyt toxins are not the only virulence factors required to kill aphids, and that these factors act at different stages of the infection. Moreover, their production is controlled by general virulence regulators known for their role in plant virulence. This integration could indicate that virulence towards insects is a normal mode of life for D. dadantii.
Sialic acids are acidic sugars present mostly on vertebrate cell surfaces, which can be metabolized by bacteria and act as an inflammation signal. N-Acetylneuraminic acid, the most abundant sialic acid, can enter into Escherichia coli K12 through NanC, an N-acetylneuraminic acid-inducible outer-membrane channel. With its 215 residues, NanC belongs to the family of small monomeric KdgM-related porins. KdgM homologues are found in gammaproteobacteria, including major plant and human pathogens, and together they define a large family of putative acidic sugar/oligosaccharide transporters, which are as yet poorly characterized. Here, we present the first high-resolution structure of a KdgM family member. NanC folds into a 28-A-high, 12-stranded beta-barrel, resembling the beta-domain of autotransporter NalP and defining an open pore with an average radius of 3.3 A. The channel is lined by two strings of basic residues facing each other across the pore, a feature that appears largely conserved within the KdgM family and is likely to facilitate the diffusion of acidic oligosaccharides.
The twin arginine translocation (Tat) pathway exports folded proteins from the cytoplasm to the periplasm of bacteria. The targeting of the exported proteins to the Tat pathway relies on a specific amino-terminal signal sequence, which is cleaved after exportation. In the phytopathogen Dickeya dadantii, the pectin lyase homologue PnlH is exported by the Tat pathway without cleavage of its signal sequence, which anchors PnlH into the outer membrane. In proteobacteria, the vast majority of outer membrane proteins consists of ?-barrel proteins and lipoproteins. Thus, PnlH represents a new kind of outer membrane protein. In Escherichia coli, periplasmic chaperones SurA, Skp, and DegP work together with the ?-barrel assembly machinery (Bam) to target and insert ?-barrel proteins into the outer membrane. In this work, we showed that SurA is required for an efficient targeting of PnlH to the outer membrane. Moreover, we were able to detect an in vitro interaction between SurA and the PnlH signal sequence. Since the PnlH signal sequence contains a highly hydrophobic region, we propose that SurA protects it from the hydrophobic periplasm during targeting of PnlH to the outer membrane. We also studied the nature of the information carried by the PnlH signal sequence responsible for its targeting to the outer membrane after exportation by the Tat system.
Soft-rot Enterobacteriaceae (SRE), which belong to the genera Pectobacterium and Dickeya, consist mainly of broad host-range pathogens that cause wilt, rot, and blackleg diseases on a wide range of plants. They are found in plants, insects, soil, and water in agricultural regions worldwide. SRE encode all six known protein secretion systems present in gram-negative bacteria, and these systems are involved in attacking host plants and competing bacteria. They also produce and detect multiple types of small molecules to coordinate pathogenesis, modify the plant environment, attack competing microbes, and perhaps to attract insect vectors. This review integrates new information about the role protein secretion and detection and production of ions and small molecules play in soft-rot pathogenicity.
Dickeya dadantii (syn. Erwinia chrysanthemi) is a plant pathogenic bacteria that harbours a cluster of four horizontally-transferred, insect-specific toxin genes. It was recently shown to be capable of causing an acute infection in the pea aphid Acyrthosiphon pisum (Insecta: Hemiptera). The infection route of the pathogen, and the role and in vivo expression pattern of these toxins, remain unknown. Using bacterial numeration and immunolocalization, we investigated the kinetics and the pattern of infection of this phytopathogenic bacterium within its insect host. We compared infection by the wild-type strain and by the Cyt toxin-deficient mutant. D. dadantii was found to form dense clusters in many luminal parts of the aphid intestinal tract, including the stomach, from which it invaded internal tissues as early as day 1 post-infection. Septicemia occurred soon after, with the fat body being the main infected tissue, together with numerous early infections of the embryonic chains showing embryonic gut and fat body as the target organs. Generalized septicemia led to insect death when the bacterial load reached about 10(8) cfu. Some individual aphids regularly escaped infection, indicating an effective partial immune response to this bacteria. Cyt-defective mutants killed insects more slowly but were capable of localisation in any type of tissue. Cyt toxin expression appeared to be restricted to the digestive tract where it probably assisted in crossing over the first cell barrier and, thus, accelerating bacterial diffusion into the aphid haemocel. Finally, the presence of bacteria on the surface of leaves hosting infected aphids indicated that the insects could be vectors of the bacteria.
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