The small FNR regulon of Neisseria gonorrhoeae: comparison with the larger Escherichia coli FNR regulon and interaction with the NarQ-NarP regulon.
ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Neisseria gonorrhoeae can survive during oxygen starvation by reducing nitrite to nitrous oxide catalysed by the nitrite and nitric oxide reductases, AniA and NorB. The oxygen-sensing transcription factor, FNR, is essential for transcription activation at the aniA promoter, and full activation also requires the two-component regulatory system, NarQ-NarP, and the presence of nitrite. The only other gene known to be activated by the gonococcal FNR is ccp encoding a cytochrome c peroxidase, and no FNR-repressed genes have been reported in the gonococcus. In contrast, FNR acts as both an activator and repressor involved in the control of more than 100 operons in E. coli regulating major changes in the adaptation from aerobic to anaerobic conditions. In this study we have performed a microarray-led investigation of the FNR-mediated responses in N. gonorrhoeae to determine the physiological similarities and differences in the role of FNR in cellular regulation in this species. RESULTS: Microarray experiments show that N. gonorrhoeae FNR controls a much smaller regulon than its E. coli counterpart; it activates transcription of aniA and thirteen other genes, and represses transcription of six genes that include dnrN and norB. Having previously shown that a single amino acid substitution is sufficient to enable the gonococcal FNR to complement an E. coli fnr mutation, we investigated whether the gonococcal NarQ-NarP can substitute for E. coli NarX-NarL or NarQ-NarP. A plasmid expressing gonococcal narQ-narP was unable to complement E. coli narQP or narXL mutants, and was insensitive to nitrate or nitrite. Mutations that progressively changed the periplasmic nitrate sensing region, the P box, of E. coli NarQ to the sequence of the corresponding region of gonococcal NarQ resulted in loss of transcription activation in response to the availability of either nitrate or nitrite. However, the previously reported ligand-insensitive ability of gonococcal NarQ, the "locked on" phenotype, to activate either E. coli NarL or NarP was confirmed. CONCLUSION: Despite the sequence similarities between transcription activators of E. coli and N. gonorrhoeae, these results emphasise the fundamental differences in transcription regulation between these two types of pathogenic bacteria.
Project description:AniA (formerly Pan1) is the major anaerobically induced outer membrane protein in Neisseria gonorrhoeae. AniA has been shown to be a major antigen in patients with gonococcal disease, and we have been studying its regulation in order to understand the gonococcal response to anaerobiosis and its potential role in virulence. This study presents a genetic analysis of aniA regulation. Through deletion analysis of the upstream region, we have determined the minimal promoter region necessary for aniA expression. This 130-bp region contains a sigma 70-type promoter and an FNR (fumarate and nitrate reductase regulator protein) binding site, both of which are absolutely required for anaerobic expression. Also located in the minimal promoter region are three T-rich direct repeats and several potential NarP binding sites. This 80-bp region is required for induction by nitrite. By site-directed mutagenesis of promoter sequences, we have determined that the transcription of aniA is initiated only from the sigma 70-type promoter. The gearbox promoter, previously believed to be the major promoter, does not appear to be active during anaerobiosis. The gonococcal FNR and NarP homologs are involved in the regulation of aniA, and we demonstrate that placing aniA under the control of the tac promoter compensates for the inability of a gonococcal fnr mutant to grow anaerobically.
Project description:The gene encoding a nitric oxide reductase has been identified in Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The norB gene product shares significant identity with the nitric oxide reductases in Ralstonia eutropha and Synechocystis sp. and, like those organisms, the gonococcus lacks a norC homolog. The gonococcal norB gene was found to be required for anaerobic growth, but the absence of norB did not dramatically decrease anaerobic survival. In a wild-type background, induction of norB expression was seen anaerobically in the presence of nitrite but not anaerobically without nitrite or aerobically. norB expression is not regulated by FNR or NarP, but a functional aniA gene (which encodes an anaerobically induced outer membrane nitrite reductase) is necessary for expression. When aniA is constitutively expressed, norB expression can be induced both anaerobically and aerobically, but only in the presence of nitrite, suggesting that nitric oxide, which is likely to be produced by AniA as a product of nitrite reduction, is the inducing agent. This was confirmed with the use of the nitric oxide donor, spermine-nitric oxide complex, in an aniA null background both anaerobically and aerobically. NorB is important for gonococcal adaptation to an anaerobic environment, a physiologically relevant state during gonococcal infection. The presence of this enzyme, which is induced by nitric oxide, may also have implications in immune evasion and immunomodulation in the human host.
Project description:We have previously illustrated the nitrate/nitrite respiratory pathway of Shewanella oneidensis, which is renowned for its remarkable versatility in respiration. Here we investigated the systems regulating the pathway with a reliable approach which enables characterization of mutants impaired in nitrate/nitrite respiration by guaranteeing biomass. The S. oneidensis genome encodes an Escherichia coli NarQ/NarX homolog SO3981 and two E. coli NarP/NarL homologs SO1860 and SO3982. Results of physiological characterization and mutational analyses demonstrated that S. oneidensis possesses a single two-component system (TCS) for regulation of nitrate/nitrite respiration, consisting of the sensor kinase SO3981(NarQ) and the response regulator SO3982(NarP). The TCS directly controls the transcription of nap and nrfA (genes encoding nitrate and nitrite reductases, respectively) but regulates the former less tightly than the latter. Additionally, phosphorylation at residue 57 of SO3982 is essential for its DNA-binding capacity. At the global control level, Crp is found to regulate expression of narQP as well as nap and nrfA. In contrast to NarP-NarQ, Crp is more essential for nap rather than nrfA.
Project description:The fumarate and nitrate reductase regulator protein, FNR, is a global transcription factor that regulates major biochemical changes as Escherichia coli adapts from aerobic to anaerobic growth. The ability of an fnr mutant to grow anaerobically in the presence of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) as the terminal electron acceptor was exploited in microarray experiments designed to determine a minimum number of Escherichia coli K-12 MG1655 operons that are regulated directly by FNR. In an anaerobic glycerol-TMAO-fumarate medium, the fnr mutant grew as well as the parental strain, enabling us to reveal the response of the E. coli transcriptome to oxygen, nitrate and nitrite in the absence of glucose repression or artefacts due to variations in growth rate. Many of the discrepancies between previous microarray studies of the E. coli FNR regulon were resolved in this study. First data for 43 previously characterised FNR-dependent operons were analysed. The current microarray data confirmed 32 of these 43 assignments, but alone did not confirm FNR-activation of 5 operons (adhE, glpTQ, cydDC, hlyE and arcA), or FNR repression of 6 operons (hemA, narXL, tpx, yeiL, norVW or ubiCA). Thirty-six operons not previously known to be included in the FNR regulon were activated by FNR and a further 26 operons appeared to be repressed. For each of these operons, an excellent match to the consensus FNR-binding site sequence was identified. The FNR regulon therefore minimally includes at least 94, and possibly as many as 105, operons. Many FNR-activated promoters are also regulated by one or both of two nitrate- and nitrite-responsive two-component regulatory systems, NarX-NarL and NarQ-NarP. Comparison of transcripts in the parental strain and a narXL deletion mutant revealed that transcription of 51 operons is activated, directly or indirectly, by NarL in response to nitrate, and a further 41 are repressed. As phosphorylated NarL can bind to the NarP DNA target sequence, the narP gene was also deleted from the narXL mutant to reveal the extent of regulation by phosphorylated NarP. Fourteen promoters were more active in the narP+ strain than in the mutant, and a further 37 were strongly repressed. This is the first report that NarP might function as a global repressor as well as a transcription activator. The data also revealed possible new biochemical defence mechanisms against reactive nitrogen species. Keywords: genetic modification, growth conditions An fnr mutant is either unable to grow anaerobically in the presence of most terminal electron acceptors and a non-fermentable carbon source such as glycerol or lactate, or grows far more slowly than the parental strain. Under such conditions, any differences in the transcriptomes of an fnr mutant and its parental strain would be due to both direct effects of FNR, and to differences in growth rate. As glucose represses expression from some FNR-activated promoters replacement of glucose by a less repressing fermentable carbohydrate would decrease effects due to glucose repression, but to an unknown extent. We therefore exploited the fact that fnr mutants can be grown anaerobically in the presence of the non-fermentable and non-repressing carbon source, glycerol, in the presence of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO) in addition to fumarate as the terminal electron acceptor. Furthermore, the presence of TMAO has a minimal effect on NarX-NarL or NarQ-NarP-dependent induction or repression. Under these conditions, the fnr mutant grows as well as the parental strain and the use of the glycerol-TMAO-fumarate medium enables us to reveal the response of the E. coli transcriptome to nitrate, nitrite and the two-component regulator system, NarX-NarL. In each large set of experiments a common pool of reference RNA isolated from bacteria that had been grown anaerobically, and in which FNR-activated genes were expressed at a significant level. A potential disadvantage of this approach was the risk that some promoters repressed by FNR would be expressed at such a low level that the microarray signals would be too low to yield reliable data. To check for this artefact, further experiments were completed in which the reference RNA was a pool of samples isolated from bacteria in the early exponential phase of aerobic growth. “Reference” RNA was isolated from at least four independent cultures grown to OD 0.5 to 0.6. “Test” RNA was isolated from three independent cultures grown to OD 0.5 to 0.6.
Project description:The facultative aerobe Escherichia coli K-12 can use respiratory nitrate ammonification to generate energy during anaerobic growth. The toxic compound nitric oxide is a by-product of this metabolism. Previous transcript microarray studies identified the yeaR-yoaG operon, encoding proteins of unknown function, among genes whose transcription is induced in response to nitrate, nitrite, or nitric oxide. Nitrate and nitrite regulate anaerobic respiratory gene expression through the NarX-NarL and NarQ-NarP two-component systems. All known Nar-activated genes also require the oxygen-responsive Fnr transcription activator. However, previous studies indicated that yeaR-yoaG operon transcription does not require Fnr activation. Here, we report results from mutational analyses demonstrating that yeaR-yoaG operon transcription is activated by phospho-NarL protein independent of the Fnr protein. The phospho-NarL protein binding site is centered at position -43.5 with respect to the transcription initiation site. Expression from the Shewanella oneidensis MR-1 nnrS gene promoter, cloned into E. coli, similarly was activated by phospho-NarL protein independent of the Fnr protein. Recently, yeaR-yoaG operon transcription was shown to be regulated by the nitric oxide-responsive NsrR repressor (N. Filenko et al., J. Bacteriol. 189:4410-4417, 2007). Our mutational analyses reveal the individual contributions of the Nar and NsrR regulators to overall yeaR-yoaG operon expression and document the NsrR operator centered at position -32. Thus, control of yeaR-yoaG operon transcription provides an example of overlapping regulation by nitrate and nitrite, acting through the Nar regulatory system, and nitric oxide, acting through the NsrR repressor.
Project description:The emergence of multi-drug resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae has generated an urgent need for novel therapies or a vaccine to prevent gonococcal disease. In this study we investigate the potential of targeting the surface exposed nitrite reductase, AniA, to block activity by producing functional blocking antibodies. AniA activity is essential for anaerobic growth and biofilm formation of N. gonorrhoeae and functional blocking antibodies may prevent colonisation and disease. Seven peptides covering regions adjacent to the active site were designed based on the AniA structure. Six of the seven peptide conjugates generated immune responses. Peptide 7, GALGQLKVEGAEN, was able to elicit antibodies capable of blocking AniA activity. Antiserum raised against the peptide 7 conjugate detected AniA in 20 N. gonorrhoeae clinical isolates. Recombinant AniA protein antigens were also assessed in this study and generated high-titre, functional blocking antibody responses. Peptide 7 conjugates or truncated recombinant AniA antigens have potential for inclusion in a vaccine against N. gonorrhoeae.
Project description:Since Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Neisseria meningitidis are obligate human pathogens, a comparison with commensal species of the same genus could reveal differences important in pathogenesis. The recent completion of commensal Neisseria genome draft assemblies allowed us to perform a comparison of the genes involved in the catalysis, assembly and regulation of the denitrification pathway, which has been implicated in the virulence of several bacteria. All species contained a highly conserved nitric oxide reductase (NorB) and a nitrite reductase (AniA or NirK) that was highly conserved in the catalytic but divergent in the N-terminal lipid modification and C-terminal glycosylation domains. Only Neisseria mucosa contained a nitrate reductase (Nar), and only Neisseria lactamica, Neisseria cinerea, Neisseria subflava, Neisseria flavescens and Neisseria sicca contained a nitrous oxide reductase (Nos) complex. The regulators of the denitrification genes, FNR, NarQP and NsrR, were highly conserved, except for the GAF domain of NarQ. Biochemical examination of laboratory strains revealed that all of the neisserial species tested except N. mucosa had a two- to fourfold lower nitrite reductase activity than N. gonorrhoeae, while N. meningitidis and most of the commensal Neisseria species had a two- to fourfold higher nitric oxide (NO) reductase activity. For N. meningitidis and most of the commensal Neisseria, there was a greater than fourfold reduction in the NO steady-state level in the presence of nitrite as compared with N. gonorrhoeae. All of the species tested generated an NO steady-state level in the presence of an NO donor that was similar to that of N. gonorrhoeae. The greatest difference between the Neisseria species was the lack of a functional Nos system in the pathogenic species N. gonorrhoeae and N. meningitidis.
Project description:The NarX-NarL and NarQ-NarP sensor-response regulator pairs control Escherichia coli gene expression in response to nitrate and nitrite. Previous analysis suggests that the Nar two-component systems form a cross-regulation network in vivo. Here we report on the kinetics of phosphoryl transfer between different sensor-regulator combinations in vitro. NarX exhibited a noticeable kinetic preference for NarL over NarP, whereas NarQ exhibited a relatively slight kinetic preference for NarL. These findings were substantiated in reactions containing one sensor and both response regulators, or with two sensors and a single response regulator. We isolated 21 NarX mutants with missense substitutions in the cytoplasmic central and transmitter modules. These confer phenotypes that reflect defects in phospho-NarL dephosphorylation. Five of these mutants, all with substitutions in the transmitter DHp domain, also exhibited NarP-blind phenotypes. Phosphoryl transfer assays in vitro confirmed that these NarX mutants have defects in catalysing NarP phosphorylation. By contrast, the corresponding NarQ mutants conferred phenotypes indicating comparable interactions with both NarP and NarL. Our overall results reveal asymmetry in the Nar cross-regulation network, such that NarQ interacts similarly with both response regulators, whereas NarX interacts preferentially with NarL.
Project description:A cytochrome c peroxidase (CCP) produced by Neisseria gonorrhoeae has been shown to have novel characteristics by investigating its location, expression and role in Neisseria gonorrhoeae and by expression in Escherichia coli. Analysis of the N-terminus of CCP indicated that it is a lipoprotein with a signal peptide for cleavage by signal peptidase II. Expression of the gonococcal CCP in E. coli revealed that it is first synthesized as a pro-apo-cytochrome that is translocated across the cytoplasmic membrane. The signal peptide is cleaved and haem is attached in the periplasm. The gonococcal CCP was associated with the membrane of both E. coli and N. gonorrhoeae. The expression of a MalE-CCP fusion protein has allowed characterization of CCP in vitro. Evidence is presented that CCP protects gonococci from hydrogen peroxide, presumably in the periplasmic compartment of the cell. The expression of CCP is dependent on the transcription factor FNR, but is repressed by nitrite, indicating that it could be most important in the stationary-phase response. These data support the hypothesis that the gonococcal lipoprotein CCP is anchored to the membrane in the periplasm, where it might be responsible for the reduction of hydrogen peroxide. Other putative CCP lipoproteins have been identified, representing a new subclass of bacterial CCP proteins.
Project description:Expression of two genes of unknown function, Staphylococcus aureus scdA and Neisseria gonorrhoeae dnrN, is induced by exposure to oxidative or nitrosative stress. We show that DnrN and ScdA are di-iron proteins that protect their hosts from damage caused by exposure to nitric oxide and to hydrogen peroxide. Loss of FNR-dependent activation of aniA expression and NsrR-dependent repression of norB and dnrN expression on exposure to NO was restored in the gonococcal parent strain but not in a dnrN mutant, suggesting that DnrN is necessary for the repair of NO damage to the gonococcal transcription factors, FNR and NsrR. Restoration of aconitase activity destroyed by exposure of S. aureus to NO or H2O2 required a functional scdA gene. Electron paramagnetic resonance spectra of recombinant ScdA purified from Escherichia coli confirmed the presence of a di-iron center. The recombinant scdA plasmid, but not recombinant plasmids encoding the complete Escherichia coli sufABCDSE or iscRSUAhscBAfdx operons, complemented repair defects of an E. coli ytfE mutant. Analysis of the protein sequence database revealed the importance of the two proteins based on the widespread distribution of highly conserved homologues in both gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria that are human pathogens. We provide in vivo and in vitro evidence that Fe-S clusters damaged by exposure to NO and H2O2 can be repaired by this new protein family, for which we propose the name repair of iron centers, or RIC, proteins.