Surface contact stimulates the just-in-time deployment of bacterial adhesins.
ABSTRACT: The attachment of bacteria to surfaces provides advantages such as increasing nutrient access and resistance to environmental stress. Attachment begins with a reversible phase, often mediated by surface structures such as flagella and pili, followed by a transition to irreversible attachment, typically mediated by polysaccharides. Here we show that the interplay between pili and flagellum rotation stimulates the rapid transition between reversible and polysaccharide-mediated irreversible attachment. We found that reversible attachment of Caulobacter crescentus cells is mediated by motile cells bearing pili and that their contact with a surface results in the rapid pili-dependent arrest of flagellum rotation and concurrent stimulation of polar holdfast adhesive polysaccharide. Similar stimulation of polar adhesin production by surface contact occurs in Asticcacaulis biprosthecum and Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Therefore, single bacterial cells respond to their initial contact with surfaces by triggering just-in-time adhesin production. This mechanism restricts stable attachment to intimate surface interactions, thereby maximizing surface attachment, discouraging non-productive self-adherence, and preventing curing of the adhesive.
Project description:In the environment, most bacteria form surface-attached cell communities called biofilms. The attachment of single cells to surfaces involves an initial reversible stage typically mediated by surface structures such as flagella and pili, followed by a permanent adhesion stage usually mediated by polysaccharide adhesives. Here, we determine the absolute and relative timescales and frequencies of reversible and irreversible adhesion of single cells of the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus to a glass surface in a microfluidic device. We used fluorescence microscopy of C. crescentus expressing green fluorescent protein to track the swimming behavior of individual cells prior to adhesion, monitor the cell at the surface, and determine whether the cell reversibly or irreversibly adhered to the surface. A fluorescently labeled lectin that binds specifically to polar polysaccharides, termed holdfast, discriminated irreversible adhesion events from reversible adhesion events where no holdfast formed. In wild-type cells, the holdfast production time for irreversible adhesion events initiated by surface contact (23 s) was 30-times faster than the holdfast production time that occurs through developmental regulation (13 min). Irreversible adhesion events in wild-type cells (3.3 events/min) are 15-times more frequent than in pilus-minus mutant cells (0.2 events/min), indicating the pili are critical structures in the transition from reversible to irreversible surface-stimulated adhesion. In reversible adhesion events, the dwell time of cells at the surface before departing was the same for wild-type cells (12 s) and pilus-minus mutant cells (13 s), suggesting the pili do not play a significant role in reversible adhesion. Moreover, reversible adhesion events in wild-type cells (6.8 events/min) occur twice as frequently as irreversible adhesion events (3.3 events/min), demonstrating that most cells contact the surface multiple times before transitioning from reversible to irreversible adhesion.
Project description:It is critical for bacteria to recognize surface contact and initiate physiological changes required for surface-associated lifestyles. Ubiquitous microbial appendages called pili are involved in sensing surfaces and facilitating downstream behaviors, but the mechanism by which pili mediate surface sensing has been unclear. We visualized Caulobacter crescentus pili undergoing dynamic cycles of extension and retraction. Within seconds of surface contact, these cycles ceased, which coincided with synthesis of the adhesive holdfast required for attachment. Physically blocking pili imposed resistance to pilus retraction, which was sufficient to stimulate holdfast synthesis without surface contact. Thus, to sense surfaces, bacteria use the resistance on retracting, surface-bound pili that occurs upon surface contact.
Project description:Bacteria have evolved a wide range of sensing systems to appropriately respond to environmental signals. Here we demonstrate that the opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa detects contact with surfaces on short timescales using the mechanical activity of its type IV pili, a major surface adhesin. This signal transduction mechanism requires attachment of type IV pili to a solid surface, followed by pilus retraction and signal transduction through the Chp chemosensory system, a chemotaxis-like sensory system that regulates cAMP production and transcription of hundreds of genes, including key virulence factors. Like other chemotaxis pathways, pili-mediated surface sensing results in a transient response amplified by a positive feedback that increases type IV pili activity, thereby promoting long-term surface attachment that can stimulate additional virulence and biofilm-inducing pathways. The methyl-accepting chemotaxis protein-like chemosensor PilJ directly interacts with the major pilin subunit PilA. Our results thus support a mechanochemical model where a chemosensory system measures the mechanically induced conformational changes in stretched type IV pili. These findings demonstrate that P. aeruginosa not only uses type IV pili for surface-specific twitching motility, but also as a sensor regulating surface-induced gene expression and pathogenicity.
Project description:Many bacteria colonize surfaces and transition to a sessile mode of growth. The plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens produces a unipolar polysaccharide (UPP) adhesin at single cell poles that contact surfaces. Here we report that elevated levels of the intracellular signal cyclic diguanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP) lead to surface-contact-independent UPP production and a red colony phenotype due to production of UPP and the exopolysaccharide cellulose, when A. tumefaciens is incubated with the polysaccharide stain Congo Red. Transposon mutations with elevated Congo Red staining identified presumptive UPP-negative regulators, mutants for which were hyperadherent, producing UPP irrespective of surface contact. Multiple independent mutations were obtained in visN and visR, activators of flagellar motility in A. tumefaciens, now found to inhibit UPP and cellulose production. Expression analysis in a visR mutant and isolation of suppressor mutations, identified three diguanylate cyclases inhibited by VisR. Null mutations for two of these genes decrease attachment and UPP production, but do not alter cellular c-di-GMP levels. However, analysis of catalytic site mutants revealed their GGDEF motifs are required to increase UPP production and surface attachment. Mutations in a specific presumptive c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase also elevate UPP production and attachment, consistent with c-di-GMP activation of surface-dependent adhesin deployment. Three biological replicates, independent RNA preparations, one dye swap.
Project description:Many bacteria colonize surfaces and transition to a sessile mode of growth. The plant pathogen Agrobacterium tumefaciens produces a unipolar polysaccharide (UPP) adhesin at single cell poles that contact surfaces. Here we report that elevated levels of the intracellular signal cyclic diguanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP) lead to surface-contact-independent UPP production and a red colony phenotype due to production of UPP and the exopolysaccharide cellulose, when A.?tumefaciens is incubated with the polysaccharide stain Congo Red. Transposon mutations with elevated Congo Red staining identified presumptive UPP-negative regulators, mutants for which were hyperadherent, producing UPP irrespective of surface contact. Multiple independent mutations were obtained in visN and visR, activators of flagellar motility in A.?tumefaciens, now found to inhibit UPP and cellulose production. Expression analysis in a visR mutant and isolation of suppressor mutations, identified three diguanylate cyclases inhibited by VisR. Null mutations for two of these genes decrease attachment and UPP production, but do not alter cellular c-di-GMP levels. However, analysis of catalytic site mutants revealed their GGDEF motifs are required to increase UPP production and surface attachment. Mutations in a specific presumptive c-di-GMP phosphodiesterase also elevate UPP production and attachment, consistent with c-di-GMP activation of surface-dependent adhesin deployment.
Project description:Acidithiobacillus thiooxidans is an acidophilic chemolithoautotrophic bacterium widely used in the mining industry due to its metabolic sulfur-oxidizing capability. The biooxidation of sulfide minerals is enhanced through the attachment of At. thiooxidans cells to the mineral surface. The Type IV pili (TfP) of At. thiooxidans may play an important role in the bacteria attachment since TfP play a key adhesive role in the attachment and colonization of different surfaces. In this work, we report for the first time the mRNA sequence of three TfP proteins from At. thiooxidans, the adhesin protein PilY1 and the TfP pilins PilW and PilV. The nucleotide sequences of these TfP proteins show changes in some nucleotide positions with respect to the corresponding annotated sequences. The bioinformatic analyses and 3D-modeling of protein structures sustain their classification as TfP proteins, as structural homologs of the corresponding proteins of Ps. aeruginosa, results that sustain the role of PilY1, PilW and PilV in pili assembly. Also, that PilY1 comprises the conserved Neisseria-PilC (superfamily) domain of the tip-associated adhesin, while PilW of the superfamily of putative TfP assembly proteins and PilV belongs to the superfamily of TfP assembly protein. In addition, the analyses suggested the presence of specific functional domains involved in adhesion, energy transduction and signaling functions. The phylogenetic analysis indicated that the PilY1 of Acidithiobacillus genus forms a cohesive group linked with iron- and/or sulfur-oxidizing microorganisms from acid mine drainage or mine tailings.
Project description:Kingella kingae is an important pathogen in young children and initiates infection by colonizing the posterior pharynx. Adherence to pharyngeal epithelial cells is an important first step in the process of colonization. In the present study, we sought to elucidate the interplay of type IV pili (T4P), a trimeric autotransporter adhesin called Knh, and the polysaccharide capsule in K. kingae adherence to host cells. Using adherence assays performed under shear stress, we observed that a strain expressing only Knh was capable of higher levels of adherence than a strain expressing only T4P. Using atomic force microscopy and transmission electron microscopy (TEM), we established that the capsule had a mean depth of 700 nm and that Knh was approximately 110 nm long. Using cationic ferritin capsule staining and thin-section transmission electron microscopy, we found that when bacteria expressing retractile T4P were in close contact with host cells, the capsule was absent at the point of contact between the bacterium and the host cell membrane. In a T4P retraction-deficient mutant, the capsule depth remained intact and adherence levels were markedly reduced. These results support the following model: T4P make initial contact with the host cell and mediate low-strength adherence. T4P retract, pulling the organism closer to the host cell and displacing the capsule, allowing Knh to be exposed and mediate high-strength, tight adherence to the host cell surface. This report provides the first description of the mechanical displacement of capsule enabling intimate bacterial adherence to host cells.IMPORTANCE Adherence to host cells is an important first step in bacterial colonization and pathogenicity. Kingella kingae has three surface factors that are involved in adherence: type IV pili (T4P), a trimeric autotransporter adhesin called Knh, and a polysaccharide capsule. Our results suggest that T4P mediate initial contact and low-strength adherence to host cells. T4P retraction draws the bacterium closer to the host cell and causes the displacement of capsule. This displacement exposes Knh and allows Knh to mediate high-strength adherence to the host cell. This work provides new insight into the interplay of T4P, a nonpilus adhesin, and a capsule and their effects on bacterial adherence to host cells.
Project description:Attachment is essential for microorganisms to establish interactions with both biotic and abiotic surfaces. Stable attachment of Caulobacter crescentus to surfaces requires an adhesive polysaccharide holdfast, but the exact composition of the holdfast is unknown. The holdfast is anchored to the cell envelope by outer membrane proteins HfaA, HfaB, and HfaD. Holdfast anchor gene mutations result in holdfast shedding and reduced cell adherence. Translocation of HfaA and HfaD to the cell surface requires HfaB. The Wzx homolog HfsF is predicted to be a bacterial polysaccharide flippase. An hfsF deletion significantly reduced the amount of holdfast produced per cell and slightly reduced adherence. A ?hfsF ?hfaD double mutant was completely deficient in adherence. A suppressor screen that restored adhesion in the ?hfsF ?hfaD mutant identified mutations in three genes: wbqV, rfbB, and rmlA Both WbqV and RfbB belong to a family of nucleoside-diphosphate epimerases, and RmlA has similarity to nucleotidyltransferases. The loss of wbqV or rfbB in the ?hfsF ?hfaD mutant reduced holdfast shedding but did not restore holdfast synthesis to parental levels. Loss of wbqV or rfbB did not restore adherence to a ?hfsF mutant but did restore adherence and holdfast anchoring to a ?hfaD mutant, confirming that suppression occurs through restoration of holdfast anchoring. The adherence and holdfast anchoring of a ?hfaA ?hfaD mutant could be restored by wbqV or rfbB mutation, but such mutations could not suppress these phenotypes in the ?hfaB mutant. We hypothesize that HfaB plays an additional role in holdfast anchoring or helps to translocate an unknown factor that is important for holdfast anchoring.IMPORTANCE Biofilm formation results in increased resistance to both environmental stresses and antibiotics. Caulobacter crescentus requires an adhesive holdfast for permanent attachment and biofilm formation, but the exact mechanism of polysaccharide anchoring to the cell and the holdfast composition are unknown. Here we identify novel polysaccharide genes that affect holdfast anchoring to the cell. We identify a new role for the holdfast anchor protein HfaB. This work increases our specific knowledge of the polysaccharide adhesin involved in Caulobacter attachment and the general knowledge regarding production and anchoring of polysaccharide adhesins by bacteria. This work also explores the interactions between different polysaccharide biosynthesis and secretion systems in bacteria.
Project description:Ralstonia solanacearum is a bacterial plant pathogen causing important economic losses worldwide. In addition to the polar flagella responsible for swimming motility, this pathogen produces type IV pili (TFP) that govern twitching motility, a flagellum-independent movement on solid surfaces. The implication of chemotaxis in plant colonization, through the control flagellar rotation by the proteins CheW and CheA, has been previously reported in R. solanacearum In this work, we have identified in this bacterium homologues of the Pseudomonas aeruginosa pilI and chpA genes, suggested to play roles in TFP-associated motility analogous to those played by the cheW and cheA genes, respectively. We demonstrate that R. solanacearum strains with a deletion of the pilI or the chpA coding region show normal swimming and chemotaxis but altered biofilm formation and reduced twitching motility, transformation efficiency, and root attachment. Furthermore, these mutants displayed wild-type growth in planta and impaired virulence on tomato plants after soil-drench inoculations but not when directly applied to the xylem. Comparison with deletion mutants for pilA and fliC-encoding the major pilin and flagellin subunits, respectively-showed that both twitching and swimming are required for plant colonization and full virulence. This work proves for the first time the functionality of a pilus-mediated pathway encoded by pil-chp genes in R. solanacearum, demonstrating that pilI and chpA genes are bona fide motility regulators controlling twitching motility and its three related phenotypes: virulence, natural transformation, and biofilm formation.IMPORTANCE Twitching and swimming are two bacterial movements governed by pili and flagella. The present work identifies for the first time in the Gram-negative plant pathogen Ralstonia solanacearum a pilus-mediated chemotaxis pathway analogous to that governing flagellum-mediated chemotaxis. We show that regulatory genes in this pathway control all of the phenotypes related to pili, including twitching motility, natural transformation, and biofilm formation, and are also directly implicated in virulence, mainly during the first steps of the plant infection. Our results show that pili have a higher impact than flagella on the interaction of R. solanacearum with tomato plants and reveal new types of cross-talk between the swimming and twitching motility phenotypes: enhanced swimming in bacteria lacking pili and a role for the flagellum in root attachment.
Project description:When exploring immersed surfaces the cypris larvae of barnacles employ a tenacious and rapidly reversible adhesion mechanism to facilitate their characteristic 'walking' behaviour. Although of direct relevance to the fields of marine biofouling and bio-inspired adhesive development, the mechanism of temporary adhesion in cyprids remains poorly understood. Cyprids secrete deposits of a proteinaceous substance during surface attachment and these are often visible as 'footprints' on previously explored surfaces. The attachment structures, the antennular discs, of cyprids also present a complex morphology reminiscent of both the hairy appendages used by some terrestrial invertebrates for temporary adhesion and a classic 'suction cup'. Despite the numerous analytical approaches so-far employed, it has not been possible to resolve conclusively the respective contributions of viscoelastic adhesion via the proteinaceous 'temporary adhesive', 'dry' adhesion via the cuticular villi present on the disc and the behavioural contribution by the organism. In this study, high-speed photography was used for the first time to capture the behaviour of cyprids at the instant of temporary attachment and detachment. Attachment is facilitated by a constantly sticky disc surface - presumably due to the presence of the proteinaceous temporary adhesive. The tenacity of the resulting bond, however, is mediated behaviourally. For weak attachment the disc is constantly moved on the surface, whereas for a strong attachment the disc is spread out on the surface. Voluntary detachment is by force, requiring twisting or peeling of the bond - seemingly without any more subtle detachment behaviours. Micro-bubbles were observed at the adhesive interface as the cyprid detached, possibly an adaptation for energy dissipation. These observations will allow future work to focus more specifically on the cyprid temporary adhesive proteins, which appear to be fundamental to adhesion, inherently sticky and exquisitely adapted for reversible adhesion underwater.