Mutational analysis of RetS, an unusual sensor kinase-response regulator hybrid required for Pseudomonas aeruginosa virulence.
ABSTRACT: Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen capable of causing both acute and chronic infections in a wide range of hosts. Expression of the type III secretion system (T3SS) proteins is correlated with virulence in models of acute infection, while downregulation of the T3SS and upregulation of genes important for biofilm formation are observed during chronic infections. RetS, a hybrid sensor kinase-response regulator protein of P. aeruginosa, plays a key role in the reciprocal regulation of virulence factors required for acute versus chronic infection and is postulated to act in concert with two other sensor kinase-response regulator hybrids, GacS and LadS. This work examines the roles of the putative sensing and signal transduction domains of RetS in induction of the T3SS in vitro and in a murine model of acute pneumonia. We identify distinct signaling roles for the tandem receiver domains of RetS and present evidence suggesting that RetS may serve as a substrate for another sensor kinase. Phenotypes associated with RetS alleles lacking periplasmic and/or transmembrane domains further indicate that the periplasmic domain of RetS may transmit a signal that inhibits RetS activity during acute infections.
Project description:The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa may cause both acute and chronic-persistent infections in predisposed individuals. Acute infections require the presence of a functional type III secretion system (T3SS), whereas chronic P. aeruginosa infections are characterized by the formation of drug-resistant biofilms. The T3SS and biofilm formation are reciprocally regulated by the signaling kinases LadS, RetS, and GacS. RetS downregulates biofilm formation and upregulates expression of the T3SS through a unique mechanism. RetS forms a heterodimeric complex with GacS and thus prevents GacS autophosphorylation and downstream signaling. The signals that regulate RetS are not known but RetS possesses a distinctive periplasmic sensor domain that is believed to serve as receptor for the regulatory ligand. We have determined the crystal structure of the RetS sensory domain at 2.0 A resolution. The structure closely resembles those of carbohydrate binding modules of other proteins, suggesting that the elusive ligands are likely carbohydrate moieties. In addition to the conserved beta-sandwich structure, the sensory domain features two alpha helices which create a unique surface topology. Protein-protein crosslinking and fluorescence energy transfer experiments also revealed that the sensory domain dimerizes with a dissociation constant of K(d) = 580 +/- 50 nM, a result with interesting implications for our understanding of the underlying signaling mechanism.
Project description:Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a pathogen that causes acute and chronic infections in a variety of hosts. The pathogenic potential of P. aeruginosa is strain-dependent. PA14 is a highly virulent strain that causes disease in a wide range of organisms, whereas PAO1 is moderately virulent. Although PA14 carries pathogenicity islands that are absent in PAO1, the presence or absence of specific gene clusters is not predictive of virulence. Here, we show that the virulent strain PA14 has an acquired mutation in the ladS gene. This mutation has a deleterious impact on biofilm, while it results in elevated type III secretion system (T3SS) activity and increased cytotoxicity towards mammalian cells. These phenotypes can be reverted by repairing the ladS mutation on the PA14 genome. The RetS/LadS/GacS signaling cascade is associated with virulence and the switch between acute and chronic infections. RetS is a sensor that down-regulates biofilm formation and up-regulates the T3SS. Mutations in retS are acquired in strains isolated from chronically infected cystic fibrosis patients and lead to hyperbiofilm formation and reduced cytotoxicity. Conversely, the LadS sensor promotes biofilm formation and represses the T3SS. We conclude that the ladS mutation is partly responsible for the high cytotoxicity of PA14, and our findings corroborate the central role of RetS and LadS in the switch between acute and chronic infections. Given the extensive use of the reference strain PA14 in infection and virulence models, the bias caused by the ladS mutation on the observed phenotypes will be crucial to consider in future research.
Project description:Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen that causes serious acute or chronic infections in humans. Acute infections typically involve the type III secretion systems (T3SSs) and bacterial motility, whereas chronic infections are often associated with biofilm formation and the type VI secretion system. To identify new genes required for pathogenesis, a transposon mutagenesis library was constructed and the gene PA4857, named tspR, was found to modulate T3SS gene expression. Deletion of P. aeruginosa tspR reduced the virulence in a mouse acute lung infection model and diminished cytotoxicity. Suppression of T3SS gene expression in the tspR mutant resulted from compromised translation of the T3SS master regulator ExsA. TspR negatively regulated two small RNAs, RsmY and RsmZ, which control RsmA. Our data demonstrated that defects in T3SS expression and biofilm formation in retS mutant could be partially restored by overexpression of tspR. Taken together, our results demonstrated that the newly identified retS-tspR pathway is coordinated with the retS-gacS system, which regulates the genes associated with acute and chronic infections and controls the lifestyle choice of P. aeruginosa.
Project description:The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa is responsible for a wide range of acute and chronic infections. The transition to chronic infections is accompanied by physiological changes in the bacteria favoring formation of biofilm communities. Here we report the identification of LadS, a hybrid sensor kinase that controls the reciprocal expression of genes for type III secretion and biofilm-promoting polysaccharides. Domain organization of LadS and the range of LadS-controlled genes suggest that it counteracts the activities of another sensor kinase, RetS. These two pathways converge by controlling the transcription of a small regulatory RNA, RsmZ. This work identifies a previously undescribed signal transduction network in which the activities of signal-receiving sensor kinases LadS, RetS, and GacS regulate expression of virulence genes associated with acute or chronic infection by transcriptional and posttranscriptional mechanisms.
Project description:Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic human pathogen and a common cause of chronic infections in individuals with cystic fibrosis (CF). Oxygen limitation was recently reported to regulate the expression of a major virulence determinant in P. aeruginosa, the type III secretion system (T3SS). Here, we show that expression of the T3SS in oxygen-limited growth conditions is strongly dependent on the glyoxylate shunt enzyme, isocitrate lyase (ICL; encoded by aceA), which was previously shown to be highly expressed in CF isolates. ICL-dependent regulation of the T3SS did not alter the expression level of the master transcriptional regulator, ExsA, but did affect expression of the T3 structural proteins, effectors and regulators (ExsC, ExsD and ExsE). An aceA mutant displayed enhanced biofilm formation during anaerobic growth, which suggested that AceA-dependent modulation of type III secretion might impinge upon the RetS/LadS signalling pathways. Indeed, our data suggest that RetS is able to mediate some of its effects through AceA, as expression of aceA in trans partially restored T3SS expression in a retS mutant. Our findings indicate that AceA is a key player in the metabolic regulation of T3SS expression during oxygen-limited growth of P. aeruginosa. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first demonstration that the T3SS can be regulated by factors that do not affect ExsA expression levels.
Project description:Bacterial pathogenesis often depends on regulatory networks, two-component systems and small RNAs (sRNAs). In Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the RetS sensor pathway downregulates expression of two sRNAs, rsmY and rsmZ. Consequently, biofilm and the Type Six Secretion System (T6SS) are repressed, whereas the Type III Secretion System (T3SS) is activated. We show that the HptB signalling pathway controls biofilm and T3SS, and fine-tunes P. aeruginosa pathogenesis. We demonstrate that RetS and HptB intersect at the GacA response regulator, which directly controls sRNAs production. Importantly, RetS controls both sRNAs, whereas HptB exclusively regulates rsmY expression. We reveal that HptB signalling is a complex regulatory cascade. This cascade involves a response regulator, with an output domain belonging to the phosphatase 2C family, and likely an anti-anti-sigma factor. This reveals that the initial input in the Gac system comes from several signalling pathways, and the final output is adjusted by a differential control on rsmY and rsmZ. This is exemplified by the RetS-dependent but HptB-independent control on T6SS. We also demonstrate a redundant action of the two sRNAs on T3SS gene expression, while the impact on pel gene expression is additive. These features underpin a novel mechanism in the fine-tuned regulation of gene expression.
Project description:Bacteria and many non-metazoan Eukaryotes respond to stresses and threats using two-component systems (TCSs) comprising sensor kinases (SKs) and response regulators (RRs). Multikinase networks, where multiple SKs work together, detect and integrate different signals to control important lifestyle decisions such as sporulation and virulence. Here, we study interactions between two SKs from Pseudomonas aeruginosa, GacS and RetS, which control the switch between acute and chronic virulence. We demonstrate three mechanisms by which RetS attenuates GacS signalling: RetS takes phosphoryl groups from GacS-P; RetS has transmitter phosphatase activity against the receiver domain of GacS-P; and RetS inhibits GacS autophosphorylation. These mechanisms play important roles in vivo and during infection, and exemplify an unprecedented degree of signal processing by SKs that may be exploited in other multikinase networks.
Project description:During initial colonization and chronic infection, pathogenic bacteria encounter distinct host environments. Adjusting gene expression accordingly is essential for the pathogenesis. Pseudomonas aeruginosa has evolved complicated regulatory networks to regulate different sets of virulence factors to facilitate colonization and persistence. The type III secretion system (T3SS) and motility are associated with acute infections, while biofilm formation and the type VI secretion system (T6SS) are associated with chronic persistence. To identify novel regulatory genes required for pathogenesis, we screened a P. aeruginosa transposon (Tn) insertion library and found suhB to be an essential gene for the T3SS gene expression. The expression of suhB was upregulated in a mouse acute lung infection model, and loss of suhB resulted in avirulence. Suppression of T3SS gene expression in the suhB mutant is linked to a defective translation of the T3SS master regulator, ExsA. Further studies demonstrated that suhB mutation led to the upregulation of GacA and its downstream small RNAs, RsmY and RsmZ, triggering T6SS expression and biofilm formation while inhibiting the T3SS. Our results demonstrate that an in vivo-inducible gene, suhB, reciprocally regulates genes associated with acute and chronic infections and plays an essential role in the pathogenesis of P. aeruginosa.A variety of bacterial pathogens, such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa, cause acute and chronic infections in humans. During infections, pathogens produce different sets of virulence genes for colonization, tissue damage, and dissemination and for countering host immune responses. Complex regulatory networks control the delicate tuning of gene expression in response to host environments to enable the survival and growth of invading pathogens. Here we identified suhB as a critical gene for the regulation of virulence factors in P. aeruginosa. The expression of suhB was upregulated during acute infection in an animal model, and mutation of suhB rendered P. aeruginosa avirulent. Moreover, we demonstrate that SuhB is required for the activation of virulence factors associated with acute infections while suppressing virulence factors associated with chronic infections. Our report provides new insights into the multilayered regulatory network of virulence genes in P. aeruginosa.
Project description:Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a Gram-negative opportunistic human pathogen and a threat for immunocompromised and cystic fibrosis patients. It is responsible for acute and chronic infections and can switch between these lifestyles upon taking an informed decision involving complex regulatory networks. The RetS/LadS/Gac/Rsm network and the cyclic-di-GMP (c-di-GMP) signaling pathways are both central to this phenomenon redirecting the P. aeruginosa population toward a biofilm mode of growth, which is associated with chronic infections. While these two pathways were traditionally studied independently from each other, we recently showed that cellular levels of c-di-GMP are increased in the hyperbiofilm retS mutant. Here, we have formally established the link between the two networks by showing that the SadC diguanylate cyclase is central to the Gac/Rsm-associated phenotypes, notably, biofilm formation. Importantly, SadC is involved in the signaling that converges onto the RsmA translational repressor either via RetS/LadS or via HptB/HsbR. Although the level of expression of the sadC gene does not seem to be impacted by the regulatory cascade, the production of the SadC protein is tightly repressed by RsmA. This adds to the growing complexity of the signaling network associated with c-di-GMP in P. aeruginosa. While this organism possesses more than 40 c-di-GMP-related enzymes, it remains unclear how signaling specificity is maintained within the c-di-GMP network. The finding that SadC but no other diguanylate cyclase is related to the formation of biofilm governed by the Gac/Rsm pathway further contributes to understanding of this insulation mechanism.
Project description:Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a ubiquitous bacteria found in diverse ecological niches, is an important cause of acute infections in immunocompromised individuals and chronic infections in patients with Cystic Fibrosis. One signaling molecule required for the coordinate regulation of virulence factors associated with acute infections is 3', 5'-cyclic adenosine monophosphate, (cAMP), which binds to and activates a catabolite repressor homolog, Vfr. Vfr controls the transcription of many virulence factors, including those associated with Type IV pili (TFP), the Type III secretion system (T3SS), the Type II secretion system, flagellar-mediated motility, and quorum sensing systems. We previously identified FimL, a protein with histidine phosphotransfer-like domains, as a regulator of Vfr-dependent processes, including TFP-dependent motility and T3SS function. In this study, we carried out genetic and physiologic studies to further define the mechanism of action of FimL. Through a genetic screen designed to identify suppressors of FimL, we found a putative cAMP-specific phosphodiesterase (CpdA), suggesting that FimL regulates cAMP levels. Inactivation of CpdA increases cAMP levels and restores TFP-dependent motility and T3SS function to fimL mutants, consistent with in vivo phosphodiesterase activity. By constructing combinations of double and triple mutants in the two adenylate cyclase genes (cyaA and cyaB), fimL, and cpdA, we show that ?fimL mutants resemble ?cyaB mutants in TM defects, decreased T3SS transcription, and decreased cAMP levels. Similar to some of the virulence factors that they regulate, we demonstrate that CyaB and FimL are polarly localized. These results reveal new complexities in the regulation of diverse virulence pathways associated with acute P. aeruginosa infections.