Analysis of HmsH and its role in plague biofilm formation.
ABSTRACT: The Yersinia pestis Hms(+) phenotype is a manifestation of biofilm formation that causes adsorption of Congo red and haemin at 26 degrees C but not at 37 degrees C. This phenotype is required for blockage of the proventricular valve of the oriental rat flea and plays a role in transmission of bubonic plague from fleas to mammals. Genes responsible for this phenotype are located in three separate operons, hmsHFRS, hmsT and hmsP. HmsH and HmsF are outer membrane (OM) proteins, while the other four Hms proteins are located in the inner membrane. According to the Hidden Markov Method-based predictor, HmsH has a large N terminus in the periplasm, a beta-barrel structure with 16 beta-strands that traverse the OM, eight surface-exposed loops, and seven short turns connecting the beta-strands on the periplasmic side. Here, we demonstrate that HmsH is a heat-modifiable protein, a characteristic of other beta-barrel proteins, thereby supporting the bioinformatics analysis. Alanine scanning mutagenesis was used to identify conserved amino acids in the HmsH-like family that are critical for the function of HmsH in biofilm formation. Of 23 conserved amino acids mutated, four residues affected HmsH function and three likely caused protein instability. We used formaldehyde cross-linking to demonstrate that HmsH interacts with HmsF but not with HmsR, HmsS, HmsT or HmsP. Loss-of-function HmsH variants with single alanine substitutions retained their beta-structure and interaction with HmsF. Finally, using a polar hmsH : : mini-kan mutant, we demonstrated that biofilm development is not important for the pathogenesis of bubonic or pneumonic plague in mice.
Project description:Yersinia pestis forms a biofilm in the foregut of its flea vector that promotes transmission by flea bite. As in many bacteria, biofilm formation in Y. pestis is controlled by intracellular levels of the bacterial second messenger c-di-GMP. Two Y. pestis diguanylate cyclase (DGC) enzymes, encoded by hmsT and y3730, and one phosphodiesterase (PDE), encoded by hmsP, have been shown to control biofilm production in vitro via their opposing c-di-GMP synthesis and degradation activities, respectively. In this study, we provide further evidence that hmsT, hmsP, and y3730 are the only three genes involved in c-di-GMP metabolism in Y. pestis and evaluated the two DGCs for their comparative roles in biofilm formation in vitro and in the flea vector. As with HmsT, the DGC activity of Y3730 depended on a catalytic GGDEF domain, but the relative contribution of the two enzymes to the biofilm phenotype was influenced strongly by the environmental niche. Deletion of y3730 had a very minor effect on in vitro biofilm formation, but resulted in greatly reduced biofilm formation in the flea. In contrast, the predominant effect of hmsT was on in vitro biofilm formation. DGC activity was also required for the Hms-independent autoaggregation phenotype of Y. pestis, but was not required for virulence in a mouse model of bubonic plague. Our results confirm that only one PDE (HmsP) and two DGCs (HmsT and Y3730) control c-di-GMP levels in Y. pestis, indicate that hmsT and y3730 are regulated post-transcriptionally to differentially control biofilm formation in vitro and in the flea vector, and identify a second c-di-GMP-regulated phenotype in Y. pestis.
Project description:Yersinia pestis, the cause of the disease plague, forms biofilms to enhance flea-to-mammal transmission. Biofilm formation is dependent on exopolysaccharide synthesis and is controlled by the intracellular levels of the second messenger molecule cyclic diguanylate (c-di-GMP), but the mechanisms by which Y.?pestis regulates c-di-GMP synthesis and turnover are not fully understood. Here we show that the small RNA chaperone Hfq contributes to the regulation of c-di-GMP levels and biofilm formation by modulating the abundance of both the c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase HmsP and the diguanylate cyclase HmsT. To do so, Hfq co-ordinately promotes hmsP mRNA accumulation while simultaneously decreasing the stability of the hmsT transcript. Hfq-dependent regulation of HmsP occurs at the transcriptional level while the regulation of HmsT is post-transcriptional and is localized to the 5' untranslated region/proximal coding sequence of the hmsT transcript. Decoupling HmsP from Hfq-based regulation is sufficient to overcome the effects of ?hfq on c-di-GMP and biofilm formation. We propose that Y.?pestis utilizes Hfq to link c-di-GMP levels to environmental conditions and that the disregulation of c-di-GMP turnover in the absence of Hfq may contribute to the severe attenuation of Y.?pestis lacking this RNA chaperone in animal models of plague.
Project description:Cyclic diguanylate (c-di-GMP) is essential for Yersinia pestis biofilm formation, which is important for flea-borne blockage-dependent plague transmission. Two diguanylate cyclases (DGCs), HmsT and HmsD and one phosphodiesterase (PDE), HmsP are responsible for the synthesis and degradation of c-di-GMP in Y. pestis. Here, we systematically analyzed the effect of various environmental signals on regulation of the biofilm phenotype, the c-di-GMP levels, and expression of HmsT, HmsD, and HmsP in Y. pestis. Biofilm formation was higher in the presence of non-lethal high concentration of CaCl2, MgCl2, CuSO4, sucrose, sodium dodecyl sulfate, or dithiothreitol, and was lower in the presence of FeCl2 or NaCl. In addition, we found that HmsD plays a major role in biofilm formation in acidic or redox environments. These environmental signals differentially regulated expression of HmsT, HmsP and HmsD, resulting in changes in the intracellular levels of c-di-GMP in Y. pestis. Our results suggest that bacteria can sense various environmental signals, and differentially regulate activity of DGCs and PDEs to coordinately regulate and adapt metabolism of c-di-GMP and biofilm formation to changing environments.
Project description:The natural transmission of Yersinia pestis is reliant upon biofilm blockage of the flea vector. However, the environmentally-responsive adaptive regulators which facilitate Y. pestis biofilm production in accordance with the flea midgut milieu are not well understood. We seek to establish the impact of available carbon source metabolism and storage upon Y. pestis biofilm production. Our findings demonstrate that Y. pestis biofilm production is subject to carbon catabolite regulation in which the presence of glucose impairs biofilm production; whereas, the sole metabolism of alternate carbon sources promotes robust biofilm formation. This observation is facilitated by the cAMP receptor protein, CRP. In accordance with a stark growth defect, deletion of crp in both CO92 and KIM6+ Y. pestis strains significantly impaired biofilm production when solely utilizing alternate carbon sources. Media supplementation with cAMP, a small-molecule activator of CRP, did not significantly alter Y. pestis biofilm production. Furthermore, CRP did not alter mRNA abundance of previously-characterized hms biofilm synthesis and regulation factors. Therefore, our findings indicate CRP does not confer a direct stimulatory effect, but may indirectly promote Y. pestis biofilm production by facilitating the alternate carbon source expression profile. Additionally, we assessed the impact of the carbon storage regulator protein, CsrA, upon Y. pestis biofilm production. Contrary to what has been described for E. coli, Y. pestis biofilm formation was found to be enhanced by CsrA. Regardless of media composition and available carbon source, deletion of csrA significantly impaired Y. pestis biofilm production. CsrA was found to promote Y. pestis biofilm production independent of glycogen regulation. Loss of csrA did not significantly alter relative hmsH, hmsP, or hmsT mRNA abundance. However, deletion of hmsP in the csrA-deficient mutant enabled excessive biofilm production, suggesting CsrA enables potent Y. pestis biofilm production through cyclic diguanylate regulation.
Project description:Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, forms biofilms in fleas, its insect vectors, as a means to enhance transmission. Biofilm development is positively regulated by hmsT, encoding a diguanylate cyclase that synthesizes the bacterial second messenger cyclic-di-GMP. Biofilm development is negatively regulated by the Rcs phosphorelay signal transduction system. In this study, we show that Rcs-negative regulation is accomplished by repressing transcription of hmsT.
Project description:Biofilm formation in flea gut is important for flea-borne transmission of Yersinia pestis. There are enhancing factors (HmsHFRS, HmsCDE, and HmsT) and inhibiting one (HmsP) for Yersinia pestis biofilm formation. The RcsAB regulatory complex acts as a repressor of Yesinia biofilm formation, and adaptive pseudogenization of rcsA promotes Y. pestis to evolve the ability of biofilm formation in fleas. In this study, we constructed a set of isogenic strains of Y. pestis biovar Microtus, namely WT (RscB+ and RcsA-), c-rcsA (RscB+ and RcsA+), ?rcsB (RscB- and RcsA-), and ?rcsB/c-rcsA (RscB- and RcsA+). The phenotypic assays confirmed that RcsB alone (but not RcsA alone) had an inhibiting effect on biofilm/c-di-GMP production whereas assistance of RcsA to RcsB greatly enhanced this inhibiting effect. Further gene regulation experiments showed that RcsB in assistance of RcsA tightly bound to corresponding promoter-proximal regions to achieve transcriptional repression of hmsCDE, hmsT and hmsHFRS and, meanwhile, RcsAB positively regulated hmsP most likely in an indirect manner. Data presented here disclose that pseudogenization of rcsA leads to dramatic remodeling of RcsAB-dependent hms gene expression between Y. pestis and its progenitor Y. pseudotuberculosis, enabling potent production of Y. pestis biofilms in fleas.
Project description:Cyclic di-GMP (c-di-GMP) is a signalling molecule that governs the transition between planktonic and biofilm states. Previously, we showed that the diguanylate cyclase HmsT and the putative c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase HmsP inversely regulate biofilm formation through control of HmsHFRS-dependent poly-?-1,6-N-acetylglucosamine synthesis. Here, we systematically examine the functionality of the genes encoding putative c-di-GMP metabolic enzymes in Yersinia pestis. We determine that, in addition to hmsT and hmsP, only the gene y3730 encodes a functional enzyme capable of synthesizing c-di-GMP. The seven remaining genes are pseudogenes or encode proteins that do not function catalytically or are not expressed. Furthermore, we show that HmsP has c-di-GMP-specific phosphodiesterase activity. We report that a mutant incapable of c-di-GMP synthesis is unaffected in virulence in plague mouse models. Conversely, an hmsP mutant, unable to degrade c-di-GMP, is defective in virulence by a subcutaneous route of infection due to poly-?-1,6-N-acetylglucosamine overproduction. This suggests that c-di-GMP signalling is not only dispensable but deleterious for Y. pestis virulence. Our results show that a key event in the evolution of Y. pestis from the ancestral Yersinia pseudotuberculosis was a significant reduction in the complexity of its c-di-GMP signalling network likely resulting from the different disease cycles of these human pathogens.
Project description:The hmsHFRS operon is responsible for biosynthesis and translocation of biofilm matrix exopolysaccharide. Yersinia pestis expresses the two sole diguanylate cyclases HmsT and HmsD and the sole phosphodiesterase HmsP, which are specific for biosynthesis and degradation, respectively, of 3',5'-cyclic diguanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP), a second messenger promoting exopolysaccharide production. In this work, the phenotypic assays indicates that Y. pestis sRNA HmsB enhances the production of c-di-GMP, exopolysaccharide, and biofilm. Further gene regulation experiments disclose that HmsB stimulates the expression of hmsB, hmsCDE, hmsT, and hmsHFRS but represses that of hmsP. HmsB most likely acts as a major activator of biofilm formation in Y. pestis. This is the first report of regulation of Yersinia biofilm formation by a sRNA. Data presented here will promote us to gain a deeper understanding of the complex regulatory circuits controlling Yersinia biofilm formation.
Project description:Yersinia pestis, the agent of plague, forms a biofilm in its flea vector to enhance transmission. Y. pestis biofilm development is positively regulated by hmsT and hmsD, encoding diguanylate cyclases (DGCs) involved in synthesis of the bacterial second messenger c-di-GMP. rcsA, encoding an auxiliary protein in Rcs phosphorelay, is nonfunctional in Y. pestis, while in Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, rcsA is functional and represses biofilms. Previously we showed that Rcs phosphorelay negatively regulates transcription of hmsT in Y. pestis and its ancestor Yersinia pseudotuberculosis. In this study, we show that Rcs positively regulates hmsCDE operon (encoding HmsD) in Y. pestis; while in the presence of functional rcsA, Rcs represses hmsCDE operon in Y. pseudotuberculosis. Loss of rcsA's function in Y. pestis not only causes derepression of hmsT but also causes activation of hmsD, which may account for the increased biofilm formation in Y. pestis. In addition, differential regulation of the two DGCs, HmsT and HmsD by Rcs may help Y. pestis to adapt to different environment.
Project description:RovA is known to enhance Yersinia pestis virulence by directly upregulating the psa loci. This work presents a complex gene regulatory paradigm involving the reciprocal regulatory action of RovM and RovA on the expression of biofilm and virulence genes as well as on their own genes. RovM and RovA enhance and inhibit Y. pestis biofilm production, respectively, whereas RovM represses virulence in mice. RovM directly stimulates the transcription of hmsT, hmsCDE and rovM, while indirectly enhancing hmsHFRS transcription. It also indirectly represses hmsP transcription. By contrast, RovA directly represses hmsT transcription and indirectly inhibits waaAE-coaD transcription, while RovM inhibits psaABC and psaEF transcription by directly repressing rovA transcription. rovM expression is significantly upregulated at 26°C (the temperature of the flea gut) relative to 37°C (the warm-blooded host temperature). We speculate that upregulation of rovM together with downregulation of rovA in the flea gut would promote Y. pestis biofilm formation while inhibiting virulence gene expression, leading to a more transmissible infection of this pathogen in fleas. Once the bacterium shifts to a lifestyle in the warm-blooded hosts, inhibited RovM production accompanied by recovered RovA synthesis would encourage virulence factor production and inhibit biofilm gene expression.