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Transcriptional Profiling of Coxiella burnetii Reveals Extensive Cell Wall Remodeling in the Small Cell Variant Developmental Form.


ABSTRACT: A hallmark of Coxiella burnetii, the bacterial cause of human Q fever, is a biphasic developmental cycle that generates biologically, ultrastructurally, and compositionally distinct large cell variant (LCV) and small cell variant (SCV) forms. LCVs are replicating, exponential phase forms while SCVs are non-replicating, stationary phase forms. The SCV has several properties, such as a condensed nucleoid and an unusual cell envelope, suspected of conferring enhanced environmental stability. To identify genetic determinants of the LCV to SCV transition, we profiled the C. burnetii transcriptome at 3 (early LCV), 5 (late LCV), 7 (intermediate forms), 14 (early SCV), and 21 days (late SCV) post-infection of Vero epithelial cells. Relative to early LCV, genes downregulated in the SCV were primarily involved in intermediary metabolism. Upregulated SCV genes included those involved in oxidative stress responses, arginine acquisition, and cell wall remodeling. A striking transcriptional signature of the SCV was induction (>7-fold) of five genes encoding predicted L,D transpeptidases that catalyze nonclassical 3-3 peptide cross-links in peptidoglycan (PG), a modification that can influence several biological traits in bacteria. Accordingly, of cross-links identified, muropeptide analysis showed PG of SCV with 46% 3-3 cross-links as opposed to 16% 3-3 cross-links for LCV. Moreover, electron microscopy revealed SCV with an unusually dense cell wall/outer membrane complex as compared to LCV with its clearly distinguishable periplasm and inner and outer membranes. Collectively, these results indicate the SCV produces a unique transcriptome with a major component directed towards remodeling a PG layer that likely contributes to Coxiella's environmental resistance.

SUBMITTER: Sandoz KM 

PROVIDER: S-EPMC4766238 | BioStudies | 2016-01-01

REPOSITORIES: biostudies

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