Chemical sensing in mammalian host-bacterial commensal associations.
ABSTRACT: The mammalian gastrointestinal (GI) tract is colonized by a complex consortium of bacterial species. Bacteria engage in chemical signaling to coordinate population-wide behavior. However, it is unclear if chemical sensing plays a role in establishing mammalian host-bacterial commensal relationships. Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) is a deadly human pathogen but is a member of the GI flora in cattle, its main reservoir. EHEC harbors SdiA, a regulator that senses acyl-homoserine lactones (AHLs) produced by other bacteria. Here, we show that SdiA is necessary for EHEC colonization of cattle and that AHLs are prominent within the bovine rumen but absent in other areas of the GI tract. We also assessed the rumen metagenome of heifers, and we show that it is dominated by Clostridia and/or Bacilli but also harbors Bacteroidetes. Of note, some members of the Bacteroidetes phyla have been previously reported to produce AHLs. SdiA-AHL chemical signaling aids EHEC in gauging these GI environments, and promotes adaptation to a commensal lifestyle. We show that chemical sensing in the mammalian GI tract determines the niche specificity for colonization by a commensal bacterium of its natural animal reservoir. Chemical sensing may be a general mechanism used by commensal bacteria to sense and adapt to their mammalian hosts. Additionally, because EHEC is largely prevalent in cattle herds, interference with SdiA-mediated cattle colonization is an exciting alternative to diminish contamination of meat products and cross-contamination of produce crops because of cattle shedding of this human pathogen.
Project description:UNLABELLED:Bacteria engage in chemical signaling, termed quorum sensing (QS), to mediate intercellular communication, mimicking multicellular organisms. The LuxR family of QS transcription factors regulates gene expression, coordinating population behavior by sensing endogenous acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs). However, some bacteria (such as Escherichia coli) do not produce AHLs. These LuxR orphans sense exogenous AHLs but also regulate transcription in the absence of AHLs. Importantly, this AHL-independent regulatory mechanism is still largely unknown. Here we present several structures of one such orphan LuxR-type protein, SdiA, from enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC), in the presence and absence of AHL. SdiA is actually not in an apo state without AHL but is regulated by a previously unknown endogenous ligand, 1-octanoyl-rac-glycerol (OCL), which is ubiquitously found throughout the tree of life and serves as an energy source, signaling molecule, and substrate for membrane biogenesis. While exogenous AHL renders to SdiA higher stability and DNA binding affinity, OCL may function as a chemical chaperone placeholder that stabilizes SdiA, allowing for basal activity. Structural comparison between SdiA-AHL and SdiA-OCL complexes provides crucial mechanistic insights into the ligand regulation of AHL-dependent and -independent function of LuxR-type proteins. Importantly, in addition to its contribution to basic science, this work has implications for public health, inasmuch as the SdiA signaling system aids the deadly human pathogen EHEC to adapt to a commensal lifestyle in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of cattle, its main reservoir. These studies open exciting and novel avenues to control shedding of this human pathogen in the environment. IMPORTANCE:Quorum sensing refers to bacterial chemical signaling. The QS acyl homoserine lactone (AHL) signals are recognized by LuxR-type receptors that regulate gene transcription. However, some bacteria have orphan LuxR-type receptors and do not produce AHLs, sensing them from other bacteria. We solved three structures of the E. coli SdiA orphan, in the presence and absence of AHL. SdiA with no AHL is not in an apo state but is regulated by a previously unknown endogenous ligand, 1-octanoyl-rac-glycerol (OCL). OCL is ubiquitously found in prokaryotes and eukaryotes and is a phospholipid precursor for membrane biogenesis and a signaling molecule. While AHL renders to SdiA higher stability and DNA-binding affinity, OCL functions as a chemical chaperone placeholder, stabilizing SdiA and allowing for basal activity. Our studies provide crucial mechanistic insights into the ligand regulation of SdiA activity.
Project description:Enterohemorrhagic <i>Escherichia coli</i> (EHEC) is the causative agent of severe diarrheal disease in humans. Cattle are the natural reservoir of EHEC, and approximately 75% of EHEC infections in humans stem from bovine products. Many common bacterial pathogens, including EHEC, rely on chemical communication systems, such as quorum sensing (QS), to regulate virulence and facilitate host colonization. EHEC uses SdiA from <i>E. coli</i> (SdiA<sub>EC</sub>), an orphan LuxR-type receptor, to sense <i>N</i>-acyl l-homoserine lactone (AHL) QS signals produced by other members of the bovine enteric microbiome. SdiA<sub>EC</sub> regulates two phenotypes critical for colonizing cattle: acid resistance and the formation of attaching and effacing lesions. Despite the importance of SdiA<sub>EC</sub>, there is very little known about its selectivity for different AHL signals, and no chemical inhibitors that act specifically on SdiA<sub>EC</sub> have been reported. Such compounds would represent valuable tools to study the roles of QS in EHEC virulence. To identify chemical modulators of SdiA<sub>EC</sub> and delineate the structure-activity relationships (SARs) for AHL activity in this receptor, we report herein the screening of a focused library composed largely of AHLs and AHL analogues in an SdiA<sub>EC</sub> reporter assay. We describe the identity and SARs of potent modulators of SdiA<sub>EC</sub> activity, examine the promiscuity of SdiA<sub>EC</sub>, characterize the mechanism of a covalent inhibitor, and provide phenotypic assay data to support that these compounds can control SdiA<sub>EC</sub>-dependent acid resistance in <i>E. coli</i>. These SdiA<sub>EC</sub> modulators could be used to advance the study of LuxR-type receptor/ligand interactions, the biological roles of orphan LuxR-type receptors, and potential QS-based therapeutic approaches.
Project description:Conjugation is a key mechanism for horizontal gene transfer and plays an important role in bacterial evolution, especially with respect to antibiotic resistance. However, little is known about the role of donor and recipient cells in regulation of conjugation. Here, using an Escherichia coli (SM10??)-Pseudomonas aeruginosa (PAO1) conjugation model, we demonstrated that deficiency of lasI/rhlI, genes associated with generation of the quorum sensing signals N-acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) in PAO1, or deletion of the AHLs receptor SdiA in the donor SM10?? both facilitated conjugation. When using another AHLs-non-producing E. coli strain EC600 as recipient cells, deficiency of sdiA in donor SM10?? hardly affect the conjugation. More importantly, in the presence of exogenous AHLs, the conjugation efficiency between SM10?? and EC600 was dramatically decreased, while deficiency of sdiA in SM10?? attenuated AHLs-inhibited conjugation. These data suggest the conjugation suppression function of AHLs-SdiA chemical signaling. Further bioinformatics analysis, ?-galactosidase reporter system and electrophoretic mobility shift assays characterized the binding site of SdiA on the promoter region of traI gene. Furthermore, deletion of lasI/rhlI or sdiA promoted traI mRNA expression in SM10?? and PAO1 co-culture system, which was abrogated by AHLs. Collectively, our results provide new insight into an important contribution of quorum sensing system AHLs-SdiA to the networks that regulate conjugation.
Project description:Quorum sensing (QS) allows many common bacterial pathogens to coordinate group behaviors such as virulence factor production, host colonization, and biofilm formation at high population densities. This cell-cell signaling process is regulated by N -acyl L-homoserine lactone (AHL) signals, or autoinducers, and LuxR-type receptors in Gram-negative bacteria. SdiA is an orphan LuxR-type receptor found in Escherichia, Salmonella, Klebsiella, and Enterobacter genera that responds to AHL signals produced by other species and regulates genes involved in several aspects of host colonization. The inhibition of QS using non-native small molecules that target LuxR-type receptors offers a non-biocidal approach for studying, and potentially controlling, virulence in these bacteria. To date, few studies have characterized the features of AHLs and other small molecules capable of SdiA agonism, and no SdiA antagonists have been reported. Herein, we report the screening of a set of AHL analogs to both uncover agonists and antagonists of SdiA and to start to delineate structure-activity relationships (SARs) for SdiA:AHL interactions. Using a cell-based reporter of SdiA in Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, several non-natural SdiA agonists and the first set of SdiA antagonists were identified and characterized. These compounds represent new chemical probes for exploring the mechanisms by which SdiA functions during infection and its role in interspecies interactions. Moreover, as SdiA is highly stable when produced in vitro, these compounds could advance fundamental studies of LuxR-type receptor:ligand interactions that engender both agonism and antagonism.
Project description:The acid tolerance mechanism is important for Escherichia coli to resist acidic conditions encountered in mammalian host digestive tract environment. Here, we explored how the LuxR protein SdiA influenced E. coli acid tolerance ability in the context of the glutamate- and glutamine-dependent acid resistance system (AR2). First, using a growth and acid shock assay under different acid stresses, we demonstrated that the deletion of sdiA in SM10?pir or BW25113 led to impaired growth under the acidic environment of pH 3-6, which was restored by complementary expression of SdiA. Next, transcriptome sequencing and qPCR disclosed that the expression of glutamate decarboxylase W (GadW) and GadY, the key members of the AR2 system, were regulated by SdiA. Further, ?-galactosidase reporter assays showed that the promoter activity of gadW and gadY was positively regulated by SdiA. Moreover, qPCR and ?-galactosidase reporter assays confirmed that the regulation of SdiA on GadW, but not GadY, could be enhanced by quorum sensing (QS) signal molecules AHLs. Collectively, these data suggest that SdiA plays a crucial role in acid tolerance regulation of E. coli. Our findings provide new insights into the important contribution of quorum sensing system AHLs-SdiA to the networks that regulate acid tolerance.
Project description:Many bacteria determine their population density using quorum sensing. The most intensively studied mechanism of quorum sensing utilizes proteins of the LuxI family to synthesize a signaling molecule of the acylhomoserine lactone (AHL) type, and a protein of the LuxR family to bind AHL and regulate transcription. Genes regulated by quorum sensing often encode functions that are most effective when a group of bacteria are working cooperatively (e.g., luminescence, biofilm formation, host interactions). Bacteria in the Escherichia, Salmonella, Klebsiella, and Enterobacter genera do not encode an AHL synthase but they do encode an AHL receptor of the LuxR family, SdiA. Instead of detecting their own AHL synthesis, these organisms use SdiA to detect the AHLs synthesized by other bacterial species. In this study, we used a genetic screen to identify AHL-responsive genes in a commensal Enterobacter cloacae strain that was isolated from a laboratory mouse. The genes include a putative type VI secretion system, copA (a copper transporter), and fepE (extends O-antigen chain length). A new transposon mutagenesis strategy and suicide vectors were used to construct an sdiA mutant of E. cloacae. The AHL-responsiveness of all fusions was entirely sdiA-dependent, although some genes were regulated by sdiA in the absence of AHL.
Project description:The mammalian gastrointestinal tract provides a complex and competitive environment for the microbiota. Successful colonization by pathogens requires scavenging nutrients, sensing chemical signals, competing with the resident bacteria and precisely regulating the expression of virulence genes. The gastrointestinal pathogen enterohaemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) relies on inter-kingdom chemical sensing systems to regulate virulence gene expression. Here we show that these systems control the expression of a novel two-component signal transduction system, named FusKR, where FusK is the histidine sensor kinase and FusR the response regulator. FusK senses fucose and controls expression of virulence and metabolic genes. This fucose-sensing system is required for robust EHEC colonization of the mammalian intestine. Fucose is highly abundant in the intestine. Bacteroides thetaiotaomicron produces multiple fucosidases that cleave fucose from host glycans, resulting in high fucose availability in the gut lumen. During growth in mucin, B. thetaiotaomicron contributes to EHEC virulence by cleaving fucose from mucin, thereby activating the FusKR signalling cascade, modulating the virulence gene expression of EHEC. Our findings suggest that EHEC uses fucose, a host-derived signal made available by the microbiota, to modulate EHEC pathogenicity and metabolism.
Project description:Proteins of the LuxR family detect the presence of N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs) and regulate transcription accordingly. When AHLs are synthesized by the same species that detects them, the system allows a bacterium to measure the population density of its own species, a phenomenon known as quorum sensing. The sdiA genes of Escherichia coli and Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium are predicted to encode LuxR homologs. However, these species do not appear to synthesize AHLs or any other molecule detected by SdiA. It has previously been demonstrated that overexpression of sdiA results in the activation of the ftsQAZ locus in E. coli and four other loci in Salmonella serovar Typhimurium. Here we report that transcriptional fusions to these five loci fall into two classes. The first class requires overexpression of sdiA for activation. The second class responds to sdiA expressed from its natural position in the chromosome if the appropriate AHLs are added to the culture. The only member of the second class is a series of Prck-luxCDABE fusions in Salmonella serovar Typhimurium. SdiA responds with highest sensitivity to AHLs that have a keto modification at the third carbon and an acyl chain length of 6 or 8 (half-maximal response between 1 and 5 nM). Growth of Salmonella in proximity to species known to synthesize these AHLs results in sdiA-dependent activation of the Prck-luxCDABE fusions. SdiA appears to be the first AHL receptor discovered that detects signals emanating exclusively from other species.
Project description:N-Acyl homoserine lactones (AHLs) are molecules that are synthesized and detected by many gram-negative bacteria to monitor the population density, a phenomenon known as quorum sensing. Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium is an exceptional species since it does not synthesize its own AHLs, while it does encode a LuxR homologue, SdiA, which enables this bacterium to detect AHLs that are produced by other species. To obtain more information about the specificity of the ligand binding by SdiA, we synthesized and screened a limited library of AHL analogues. We identified two classes of analogues that are strong activators of SdiA: the N-(3-oxo-acyl)-homocysteine thiolactones (3O-AHTLs) and the N-(3-oxo-acyl)-trans-2-aminocyclohexanols. To our knowledge, this is the first report of compounds (the 3O-AHTLs) that are able to activate a LuxR homologue at concentrations that are lower than the concentrations of the most active AHLs. SdiA responds with greatest sensitivity to AHTLs that have a keto modification at the third carbon atom and an acyl chain that is seven or eight carbon atoms long. The N-(3-oxo-acyl)-trans-2-aminocyclohexanols were found to be less sensitive to deactivation by lactonase and alkaline pH than the 3O-AHTLs and the AHLs are. We also examined the activity of our library with LuxR of Vibrio fischeri and identified three new inhibitors of LuxR. Finally, we performed preliminary binding experiments which suggested that SdiA binds its activators reversibly. These results increase our understanding of the specificity of the SdiA-ligand interaction, which could have uses in the development of anti-quorum-sensing-based antimicrobials.
Project description:LuxR-type transcription factors are typically used by bacteria to determine the population density of their own species by detecting N-acylhomoserine lactones (AHLs). However, while Escherichia and Salmonella encode a LuxR-type AHL receptor, SdiA, they cannot synthesize AHLs. In vitro, it is known that SdiA can detect AHLs produced by other bacterial species.In this report, we tested the hypothesis that SdiA detects the AHL-production of other bacterial species within the animal host. SdiA did not detect AHLs during the transit of Salmonella through the gastrointestinal tract of a guinea pig, a rabbit, a cow, 5 mice, 6 pigs, or 12 chickens. However, SdiA was activated during the transit of Salmonella through turtles. All turtles examined were colonized by the AHL-producing species Aeromonas hydrophila.We conclude that the normal gastrointestinal microbiota of most animal species do not produce AHLs of the correct type, in an appropriate location, or in sufficient quantities to activate SdiA. However, the results obtained with turtles represent the first demonstration of SdiA activity in animals.