C. difficile 630?erm Spo0A regulates sporulation, but does not contribute to toxin production, by direct high-affinity binding to target DNA.
ABSTRACT: Clostridium difficile is a Gram positive, anaerobic bacterium that can form highly resistant endospores. The bacterium is the causative agent of C. difficile infection (CDI), for which the symptoms can range from a mild diarrhea to potentially fatal pseudomembranous colitis and toxic megacolon. Endospore formation in Firmicutes, including C. difficile, is governed by the key regulator for sporulation, Spo0A. In Bacillus subtilis, this transcription factor is also directly or indirectly involved in various other cellular processes. Here, we report that C. difficile Spo0A shows a high degree of similarity to the well characterized B. subtilis protein and recognizes a similar binding sequence. We find that the laboratory strain C. difficile 630?erm contains an 18bp-duplication near the DNA-binding domain compared to its ancestral strain 630. In vitro binding assays using purified C-terminal DNA binding domain of the C. difficile Spo0A protein demonstrate direct binding to DNA upstream of spo0A and sigH, early sporulation genes and several other putative targets. In vitro binding assays suggest that the gene encoding the major clostridial toxin TcdB may be a direct target of Spo0A, but supernatant derived from a spo0A negative strain was no less toxic towards Vero cells than that obtained from a wild type strain, in contrast to previous reports. These results identify for the first time direct (putative) targets of the Spo0A protein in C. difficile and make a positive effect of Spo0A on production of the large clostridial toxins unlikely.
Project description:Clostridium difficile remains a leading nosocomial pathogen, putting considerable strain on the healthcare system. The ability to form endospores, highly resistant to environmental insults, is key to its persistence and transmission. However, important differences exist between the sporulation pathways of C. difficile and the model Gram-positive organism Bacillus subtilis. Amongst the challenges in studying sporulation in C. difficile is the relatively poor levels of sporulation and high heterogeneity in the sporulation process. To overcome these limitations we placed Ptet regulatory elements upstream of the master regulator of sporulation, spo0A, generating a new strain that can be artificially induced to sporulate by addition of anhydrotetracycline (ATc). We demonstrate that this strain is asporogenous in the absence of ATc, and that ATc can be used to drive faster and more efficient sporulation. Induction of Spo0A is titratable and this can be used in the study of the spo0A regulon both in vitro and in vivo, as demonstrated using a mouse model of C. difficile infection (CDI). Insights into differences between the sporulation pathways in B. subtilis and C. difficile gained by study of the inducible strain are discussed, further highlighting the universal interest of this tool. The Ptet-spo0A strain provides a useful background in which to generate mutations in genes involved in sporulation, therefore providing an exciting new tool to unravel key aspects of sporulation in C. difficile.
Project description:Clostridium difficile is an important pathogen of humans and animals, representing a significant global healthcare problem. The last decade has seen the emergence of epidemic BI/NAP1/027 and ribotype 078 isolates, associated with the onset of more severe disease and higher rates of morbidity and mortality. However, little is known about these isolates at the molecular level, partly due to difficulties in the genetic manipulation of these strains. Here we report the development of an optimised Tn916-mediated plasmid transfer system, and the use of this system to construct and complement spo0A mutants in a number of different C. difficile strain backgrounds. Spo0A is a global regulator known to control sporulation, but may also be involved in the regulation of potential virulence factors and other phenotypes. Recent studies have failed to elucidate the role of Spo0A in toxin A and toxin B production by C. difficile, with conflicting data published to date. In this study, we aimed to clarify the role of Spo0A in production of the major toxins by C. difficile. Through the construction and complementation of spo0A mutants in two ribotype 027 isolates, we demonstrate that Spo0A acts as a negative regulator of toxin A and toxin B production in this strain background. In addition, spo0A was disrupted and subsequently complemented in strain 630?erm and, for the first time, in a ribotype 078 isolate, JGS6133. In contrast to the ribotype 027 strains, Spo0A does not appear to regulate toxin production in strain 630?erm. In strain JGS6133, Spo0A appears to negatively regulate toxin production during early stationary phase, but has little effect on toxin expression during late stationary phase. These data suggest that Spo0A may differentially regulate toxin production in phylogenetically distinct C. difficile strain types. In addition, Spo0A may be involved in regulating some aspects of C. difficile motility.
Project description:The transcription factor Spo0A is a master regulator for entry into sporulation in Bacillus subtilis and also regulates expression of the virulent B. subtilis phage phi29. Here, we describe a novel function for Spo0A, being an inhibitor of DNA replication of both, the phi29 genome and the B. subtilis chromosome. Binding of Spo0A near the phi29 DNA ends, constituting the two origins of replication of the linear phi29 genome, prevents formation of phi29 protein p6-nucleoprotein initiation complex resulting in inhibition of phi29 DNA replication. At the B. subtilis oriC, binding of Spo0A to specific sequences, which mostly coincide with DnaA-binding sites, prevents open complex formation. Thus, by binding to the origins of replication, Spo0A prevents the initiation step of DNA replication of either genome. The implications of this novel role of Spo0A for phage phi29 development and the bacterial chromosome replication during the onset of sporulation are discussed.
Project description:The master regulator for entry into sporulation in Bacillus subtilis is the response regulator Spo0A, which directly governs the expression of about 121 genes. Using cells in which the synthesis of Spo0A was under the control of an inducible promoter or in which production of the regulatory protein was impaired by a promoter mutation, we found that sporulation required a high (threshold) level of Spo0A and that many genes in the regulon differentially responded to high and low doses of the regulator. We distinguished four categories of genes, as follows: (i) those that required a high level of Spo0A to be activated, (ii) those that required a high level of Spo0A to be repressed, (iii) those that were activated at a low level of the regulator, and (iv) those that were repressed at a low dose of the regulator. Genes that required a high dose of Spo0A to be activated were found to have low binding constants for the DNA-binding protein. Some genes that were turned on at a low dose of Spo0A either had a high binding constant for the regulatory protein or were activated by an indirect mechanism involving Spo0A-mediated relief of repression by the repressor protein AbrB. We propose that progressive increases in the level of Spo0A leads to an early phase of transcription in which genes that play auxiliary roles in development, such as cannibalism and biofilm formation, are turned on and a later phase in which genes that play a direct role in sporulation are activated.
Project description:Clostridium difficile is a Gram-positive anaerobic, spore-forming bacillus that is the leading cause of nosocomial diarrhoea worldwide. We demonstrate that C. difficile aggregates and forms biofilms in vitro on abiotic surfaces. These polymicrobial aggregates are attached to each other and to an abiotic surface by an extracellular polymeric substance (EPS). The EPS matrix provides the scaffold bonding together vegetative cells and spores, as well as forming a protective barrier for vegetative cells against oxygen stress. The master regulator of sporulation, Spo0A, may play a key role in biofilm formation, as genetic inactivation of spo0A in strain R20291 exhibits decreased biofilm formation. Our findings highlight an important attribute of C. difficile pathogenesis, which may have significant implications for infection, treatment and relapse.
Project description:Clostridium difficile is a major cause of chronic antibiotic-associated diarrhea and a significant health care-associated pathogen that forms highly resistant and infectious spores. Spo0A is a highly conserved transcriptional regulator that plays a key role in initiating sporulation in Bacillus and Clostridium species. Here, we use a murine model to study the role of the C. difficile spo0A gene during infection and transmission. We demonstrate that C. difficile spo0A mutant derivatives can cause intestinal disease but are unable to persist within and effectively transmit between mice. Thus, the C. difficile Spo0A protein plays a key role in persistent infection, including recurrence and host-to-host transmission in mice.
Project description:Purpose: The goal of this study was to identify genes whose expression is induced during sporulation in a Spo0A-, σF-, σE-, σG-, and σK-dependent manner. Methods: Whole genome RNA sequencing was performed on wildtype, spo0A-, sigF-, sigE-, sigG-, and sigK- C. difficile strains (strain 630 background; JIR8094 = parent strain), and the transcriptional profiles of the different mutants during growth on 70:30 agar plates were determined using an Illumina HiSeq1000. Results: This analysis identified 185 genes whose expression is collectively activated by sporulation sigma factors: 150 were σF-dependent, 150 were σE-dependent, 30 were σG-dependent, and 31 were σK-dependent. A total of 237 genes were identified as requiring Spo0A for their expression when sporulation was induced on the 70:30 plates. Conclusions: These results provide the first genome-wide transcriptional analysis of genes whose expression is induced by specific sporulation sigma factors in the Clostridia and highlight that diverse mechanisms regulate sporulation sigma factor activity in the Firmicutes. For example, in contrast with the B. subtilis sporulation pathway, C. difficile σE was not required to fully activate σG, and σG was not required to activate σK. Overall design: Wildtype, spo0A-, sigF-, sigE-, sigG-, and sigK- were streaked onto 70:30 plates in triplicate, and sporulation was induced. RNA from the three biological replicate samples was harvested, DNAse-I treated, and ribosomally depleted using Ribo-Zero kits. This RNA was transformed into cDNA, and the resulting libraries were subjected to paired end sequencing using an Illumina HiSeq 1000.
Project description:Bacteria within biofilms are protected from multiple stresses, including immune responses and antimicrobial agents. The biofilm-forming ability of bacterial pathogens has been associated with increased antibiotic resistance and chronic recurrent infections. Although biofilms have been well studied for several gut pathogens, little is known about biofilm formation by anaerobic gut species. The obligate anaerobe Clostridium difficile causes C. difficile infection (CDI), a major health care-associated problem primarily due to the high incidence of recurring infections. C. difficile colonizes the gut when the normal intestinal microflora is disrupted by antimicrobial agents; however, the factors or processes involved in gut colonization during infection remain unclear. We demonstrate that clinical C. difficile strains, i.e., strain 630 and the hypervirulent strain R20291, form structured biofilms in vitro, with R20291 accumulating substantially more biofilm. Microscopic and biochemical analyses show multiple layers of bacteria encased in a biofilm matrix containing proteins, DNA, and polysaccharide. Employing isogenic mutants, we show that virulence-associated proteins, Cwp84, flagella, and a putative quorum-sensing regulator, LuxS, are all required for maximal biofilm formation by C. difficile. Interestingly, a mutant in Spo0A, a transcription factor that controls spore formation, was defective for biofilm formation, indicating a possible link between sporulation and biofilm formation. Furthermore, we demonstrate that bacteria in clostridial biofilms are more resistant to high concentrations of vancomycin, a drug commonly used for treatment of CDI. Our data suggest that biofilm formation by C. difficile is a complex multifactorial process and may be a crucial mechanism for clostridial persistence in the host.
Project description:The response regulator Spo0A governs multiple developmental processes in Bacillus subtilis, including most conspicuously sporulation. Spo0A is activated by phosphorylation via a multicomponent phosphorelay. Previous work has shown that the Spo0A protein is not rate limiting for sporulation. Rather, Spo0A is present at high levels in growing cells, rapidly rising to yet higher levels under sporulation-inducing conditions, suggesting that synthesis of the response regulator is subject to a just-in-time control mechanism. Transcription of spo0A is governed by a promoter switching mechanism, involving a vegetative, ?(A)-recognized promoter, P(v), and a sporulation ?(H)-recognized promoter, P(s), that is under phosphorylated Spo0A (Spo0A?P) control. The spo0A regulatory region also contains four (including one identified in the present work) conserved elements that conform to the consensus binding site for Spo0A?P binding sites. These are herein designated O(1), O(2), O(3), and O(4) in reverse order of their proximity to the coding sequence. Here we report that O(1) is responsible for repressing P(v) during the transition to stationary phase, that O(2) is responsible for repressing P(s) during growth, that O(3) is responsible for activating P(s) at the start of sporulation, and that O(4) is dispensable for promoter switching. We also report that Spo0A synthesis is subject to a posttranscriptional control mechanism such that translation of mRNAs originating from P(v) is impeded due to RNA secondary structure whereas mRNAs originating from P(s) are fully competent for protein synthesis. We propose that the opposing actions of O(2) and O(3) and the enhanced translatability of mRNAs originating from P(s) create a highly sensitive, self-reinforcing switch that is responsible for producing a burst of Spo0A synthesis at the start of sporulation.
Project description:Purpose: The goal of this study was to identify genes whose expression is induced during sporulation in a Spo0A-, σF-, σE-, σG-, and σK-dependent manner. Methods: Whole genome RNA sequencing was performed on wildtype, spo0A-, sigF-, sigE-, sigG-, and sigK- C. difficile strains (strain 630 background; JIR8094 = parent strain), and the transcriptional profiles of the different mutants during growth on 70:30 agar plates were determined using an Illumina HiSeq1000. Results: This analysis identified 185 genes whose expression is collectively activated by sporulation sigma factors: 150 were σF-dependent, 150 were σE-dependent, 30 were σG-dependent, and 31 were σK-dependent. A total of 237 genes were identified as requiring Spo0A for their expression when sporulation was induced on the 70:30 plates. Conclusions: These results provide the first genome-wide transcriptional analysis of genes whose expression is induced by specific sporulation sigma factors in the Clostridia and highlight that diverse mechanisms regulate sporulation sigma factor activity in the Firmicutes. For example, in contrast with the B. subtilis sporulation pathway, C. difficile σE was not required to fully activate σG, and σG was not required to activate σK. Wildtype, spo0A-, sigF-, sigE-, sigG-, and sigK- were streaked onto 70:30 plates in triplicate, and sporulation was induced. RNA from the three biological replicate samples was harvested, DNAse-I treated, and ribosomally depleted using Ribo-Zero kits. This RNA was transformed into cDNA, and the resulting libraries were subjected to paired end sequencing using an Illumina HiSeq 1000.