Control of teichoic acid and teichuronic acid biosyntheses in chemostat cultures of Bacillus subtilis var. niger.
ABSTRACT: 1. Quantitative determination of the anionic polymers present in the walls of Bacillus subtilis var. niger organisms undergoing transition, in a chemostat culture, from either Mg(2+)-limitation to PO(4) (3-)-limitation or K(+)-limitation to PO(4) (3-)-limitation showed that teichuronic acid synthesis started immediately the culture became PO(4) (3-)-limited and proceeded at a rate substantially faster than the rate of biomass synthesis. 2. Simultaneously, the cell-wall teichoic acid content diminished at a rate greater than that due to dilution by newly synthesized wall material, and fragments of teichoic acid and mucopeptide accumulated in the culture extracellular fluid. 3. Equally rapid reverse changes occurred when a PO(4) (3-)-limited B. subtilis var. niger culture was returned to being Mg(2+)-limited. 4. It is concluded that in this organism both teichoic acid and teichuronic acid syntheses are expressions of a single genotype, and a mechanism for the control of synthesis of both polymers is suggested. 5. These results are discussed with reference to the constantly changing environmental conditions that obtain in a batch culture and the variation in bacterial cell-wall composition that is reported to occur throughout the growth cycle.
Project description:Bacillus subtilis var. niger was grown in a chemostat with various growth limitations and at various growth rates. The wall content and composition of the organism grown under these conditions were determined. The wall content, expressed as a percentage of the dry weight of organisms, varied with the growth rate. Analysis of wall samples showed that their composition also varied, particularly with respect to the phosphorus content. Wall samples extracted with trichloroacetic acid under carefully controlled conditions were found to contain various amounts of phosphorus, this being present as a glycerol phosphate polymer containing hexose (glucose and in some cases galactose), i.e. a teichoic aid. Teichoic acids were present in the walls of organisms grown under all conditions except when phosphorus limited growth. Then a different anionic polymer, composed of glucuronic acid and N-acetylgalactosamine (a teichuronic acid), was present. Under the specific growth conditions at pH7.0 and 35 degrees C in a chemostat, teichoic acid and teichuronic acid appeared to be mutually exclusive.
Project description:1. Mg(2+)-limited Bacillus subtilis var. niger, growing in a chemostat in a simple salts medium, contained considerably more potassium and phosphorus than Mg(2+)-limited Aerobacter aerogenes growing in a similar medium at corresponding dilution rates. 2. Growth of the bacillus in a K(+)-limited environment did not lower the cellular potassium and phosphorus contents, the molar proportions of cell-bound magnesium, potassium, RNA (as nucleotide) and phosphorus being approximately constant at 1:13:5:13 (compared with 1:4:5:8 in Mg(2+)-limited or K(+)-limited A. aerogenes). 3. Growth of B. subtilis in a phosphate-limited environment caused the cellular phosphorus content to be lowered to a value similar to that of Mg(2+)-limited A. aerogenes, but the potassium content was not correspondingly lowered; the molar potassium:magnesium ratio varied from 14 to 17 with changes in dilution rate from 0.4 to 0.1hr.(-1). 4. Whereas over 70% of the cell-bound phosphorus of Mg(2+)-limited or K(+)-limited A. aerogenes was contained in the nucleic acids, these polymers accounted for less than 50% of the phosphorus present in similarly limited B. subtilis; much phosphorus was present in the walls of the bacilli, bound in a teichoic acid-type compound composed of glycerol phosphate and glucose (but no alanine). 5. Phosphate-limited B. subtilis cell walls (from organisms grown at a dilution rate of 0.2hr.(-1)) contained little phosphorus and no detectable amounts of teichoic acid, but 40% of the cell-wall dry weight could be accounted for by a teichuronic acid-type compound; this contained a glucuronic acid and galactosamine, neither of which could be detected in the walls of Mg(2+)-limited B. subtilis grown at a corresponding rate. 6. It is suggested that the high concentration of potassium in growing B. subtilis (compared with A. aerogenes) results from the presence of large amounts of anionic polymer (teichoic acid or teichuronic acid) in the bacillus cell walls.
Project description:Cell walls of Bacillus subtilis W23 contain teichuronic acid when grown in a chemostat under phosphate limitation at a low dilution rate, but teichoic acid at a higher dilution rate. The teichuronic acid was purified and shown to be a polymer of glucuronic acid and N-acetylgalactosamine.
Project description:tagA, tagD, and tuaA operons are responsible for the synthesis of cell wall anionic polymer, teichoic acid, and teichuronic acid, respectively, in Bacillus subtilis. Under phosphate starvation conditions, teichuronic acid is synthesized while teichoic acid synthesis is inhibited. Expression of these genes is controlled by PhoP-PhoR, a two-component system. It has been proposed that Pho-P plays a key role in the activation of tuaA and the repression of tagA and tagD. In this study, we demonstrated the role of Pho-P in the switch process from teichoic acid synthesis to teichuronic acid synthesis, by using an in vitro transcription system. The results indicate that PhoP approximately P is sufficient to repress the transcription of the tagA and tagD promoters and also to activate the transcription of the tuaA promoter.
Project description:Wall teichoic acids are anionic, phosphate-rich polymers linked to the peptidoglycan of gram-positive bacteria. In Bacillus subtilis, the predominant wall teichoic acid types are poly(glycerol phosphate) in strain 168 and poly(ribitol phosphate) in strain W23, and they are synthesized by the tag and tar gene products, respectively. Growing evidence suggests that wall teichoic acids are essential in B. subtilis; however, it is widely believed that teichoic acids are dispensable under phosphate-limiting conditions. In the work reported here, we carefully studied the dispensability of teichoic acid under phosphate-limiting conditions by constructing three new mutants. These strains, having precise deletions in tagB, tagF, and tarD, were dependent on xylose-inducible complementation from a distal locus (amyE) for growth. The tarD deletion interrupted poly(ribitol phosphate) synthesis in B. subtilis and represents a unique deletion of a tar gene. When teichoic acid biosynthetic proteins were depleted, the mutants showed a coccoid morphology and cell wall thickening. The new wall teichoic acid biogenesis mutants generated in this work and a previously reported tagD mutant were not viable under phosphate-limiting conditions in the absence of complementation. Cell wall analysis of B. subtilis grown under phosphate-limited conditions showed that teichoic acid contributed approximately one-third of the wall anionic content. These data suggest that wall teichoic acid has an essential function in B. subtilis that cannot be replaced by teichuronic acid.
Project description:When grown in a chemostat under various nutritional conditions, cells of Bacillus subtilis W23 produce walls containing teichoic acid or teichuronic acid. The binding of Mg2+ to these walls and to the isolated anionic polymers in solution was measured by equilibrium dialysis. In solution the ribitol teichoic acid bound Mg2+ in the molar ratio Mg2+/P=1:1 with an apparent association constant (Kassoc.) of 0.61 X 10(3)M-1, and the teichuronic acid bound Mg2+ in the ratio Mg2+/CO2-=1.1, Kassoc.=0.3 X 10(3)M-1. Cell walls containing teichuronic acid exhibited closely similar binding properties to those containing teichoic acid; in both cases Mg2+ was bound in the ratio Mg/P or Mg/CO2- of 0.5:1 and with a greater affinity than displayed by the isolated polymers in solution. It was concluded that Mg2+ ions are bound bivalently between anionic centres in the walls and that the incorporation of teichoic acid or teichuronic acid into the walls gives rise to similar ion-binding and charged properties. The results are discussed in relation to the possible functions of anionic polymers in cell walls.
Project description:The bacterial cell wall has been a celebrated target for antibiotics and holds real promise as a target for the discovery of new chemical matter to surmount pervasive multi-drug resistance among pathogenic bacteria. While the walls of Gram-negative bacteria are composed primarily of peptidoglycan, those of Gram-positives are more substantial and contain, in addition, large amounts of the polymer teichoic acid, covalently attached to peptidoglycan. Wall teichoic acids are a diverse group of phosphate-rich, extracellular polysaccharides that have been largely regarded as ancillary cell surface components. Recently, wall teichoic acid was shown to be essential to the proper rod-shaped cell morphology of the prototype Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis and an important virulence factor for the human pathogen Staphylococcus aureus. Thus wall teichoic acid synthesis is an intriguing target for the development of new cell wall-active antibiotics. Nevertheless, recent studies have shown that the dispensability of genes encoding teichoic acid biosynthetic enzymes in both B. subtilis and S. aureus is paradoxical and complex. Here, we report here on the discovery of a promoter (PywaC), which is sensitive to lesions in teichoic acid synthesis. Using this promoter we developed a luminescent, cell-based, reporter system to take a chemical-genetic approach to understanding the complexity of wall teichoic acid biogenesis using a large collection of antibiotics of well characterized biological activity. Our results reveal surprising interactions among undecaprenol, peptidoglycan and teichoic acid biosynthesis that help explain the complexity of teichoic acid gene dispensability. Furthermore, the new reporter assay represents an exciting avenue for the discovery of novel antibacterial molecules that impinge broadly on Gram-positive bacterial cell wall biogenesis. Keywords: comparison between depleted and repleted tagD mutant Overall design: A conditional xylose-inducible tagD mutant of B. subtilis was generated. Cells were grown in the presence and absence of xylose. Cells grown in the absence of xylose stopped growing after tagD depletion. Two time points were analysed. Time point 1: early depletion. Time point 2: late depletion, i.e. close to death.
Project description:The biosynthetic enzymes involved in wall teichoic acid biogenesis in gram-positive bacteria have been the subject of renewed investigation in recent years with the benefit of modern tools of biochemistry and genetics. Nevertheless, there have been only limited investigations into the enzymes that glycosylate wall teichoic acid. Decades-old experiments in the model gram-positive bacterium, Bacillus subtilis 168, using phage-resistant mutants implicated tagE (also called gtaA and rodD) as the gene coding for the wall teichoic acid glycosyltransferase. This study and others have provided only indirect evidence to support a role for TagE in wall teichoic acid glycosylation. In this work, we showed that deletion of tagE resulted in the loss of ?-glucose at the C-2 position of glycerol in the poly(glycerol phosphate) polymer backbone. We also reported the first kinetic characterization of pure, recombinant wall teichoic acid glycosyltransferase using clean synthetic substrates. We investigated the substrate specificity of TagE using a wide variety of acceptor substrates and found that the enzyme had a strong kinetic preference for the transfer of glucose from UDP-glucose to glycerol phosphate in polymeric form. Further, we showed that the enzyme recognized its polymeric (and repetitive) substrate with a sequential kinetic mechanism. This work provides direct evidence that TagE is the wall teichoic acid glycosyltransferase in B. subtilis 168 and provides a strong basis for further studies of the mechanism of wall teichoic acid glycosylation, a largely uncharted aspect of wall teichoic acid biogenesis.
Project description:The genetics and enzymology of the biosynthesis of wall teichoic acid have been the extensively studied, however, comparatively little is known regarding the enzymatic degradation of this biological polymer. The GP12 protein from the Bacillus subtilis bacteriophage ?29 has been implicated as a wall teichoic acid hydrolase. We have studied the wall teichoic acid hydrolase activity of pure, recombinant GP12 using chemically defined wall teichoic acid analogs. The GP12 protein had potent wall teichoic acid hydrolytic activity in vitro and demonstrated ?13-fold kinetic preference for glycosylated poly(glycerol phosphate) teichoic acid compared with non-glycosylated. Product distribution patterns suggested that the degradation of glycosylated polymers proceeded from the hydroxyl terminus of the polymer, whereas hydrolysis occurred at random sites in the non-glycosylated polymer. In addition, we present evidence that the GP12 protein possesses both phosphodiesterase and phosphomonoesterase activities.
Project description:The PhoPR two-component signal transduction system controls one of three responses activated by Bacillus subtilis to adapt to phosphate-limiting conditions (PHO response). The response involves the production of enzymes and transporters that scavenge for phosphate in the environment and assimilate it into the cell. However, in B. subtilis and some other Firmicutes bacteria, cell wall metabolism is also part of the PHO response due to the high phosphate content of the teichoic acids attached either to peptidoglycan (wall teichoic acid) or to the cytoplasmic membrane (lipoteichoic acid). Prompted by our observation that the phosphorylated WalR (WalR?P) response regulator binds to more chromosomal loci than are revealed by transcriptome analysis, we established the PhoP?P bindome in phosphate-limited cells. Here, we show that PhoP?P binds to the chromosome at 25 loci: 12 are within the promoters of previously identified PhoPR regulon genes, while 13 are newly identified. We extend the role of PhoPR in cell wall metabolism showing that PhoP?P binds to the promoters of four cell wall-associated operons (ggaAB, yqgS, wapA, and dacA), although none show PhoPR-dependent expression under the conditions of this study. We also show that positive autoregulation of phoPR expression and full induction of the PHO response upon phosphate limitation require PhoP?P binding to the 3' end of the phoPR operon.The PhoPR two-component system controls one of three responses mounted by B. subtilis to adapt to phosphate limitation (PHO response). Here, establishment of the phosphorylated PhoP (PhoP?P) bindome enhances our understanding of the PHO response in two important ways. First, PhoPR plays a more extensive role in adaptation to phosphate-limiting conditions than was deduced from transcriptome analyses. Among 13 newly identified binding sites, 4 are cell wall associated (ggaAB, yqgS, wapA, and dacA), revealing that PhoPR has an extended involvement in cell wall metabolism. Second, amplification of the PHO response must occur by a novel mechanism since positive autoregulation of phoPR expression requires PhoP?P binding to the 3' end of the operon.