Rel Is Required for Morphogenesis of Resting Cells in Mycobacterium smegmatis.
ABSTRACT: Recently we showed that upon transfer of growing Mycobacterium smegmatis into saline, the bacilli exited the canonical cell division cycle and formed septated multi-nucleoided cells. Under shock starvation (i.e., in saline without any carbon source), differentiation terminated at this stage with internally remodeled Large Resting Cells (LARCs). Whereas under gentle starvation (i.e., in saline with trace amounts of a carbon source), the septated multi-nucleoided bacilli completed cell division and separated into mono-nucleoided Small Resting Cells (SMRCs). This demonstrated that the non-sporulating mycobacteria are in fact capable of forming morphologically differentiated resting cells when exposed to starvation. Depending on the specific starvation conditions they can form two different resting cell types, LARCs or SMRCs, which share a common cellular differentiation pathway. The mRNA encoding the (p)ppGpp synthetase Rel was found to be transiently upregulated immediately upon starvation under both conditions, suggesting a role for the stringent response factor in both LARC and SMRC development. Here, we disrupted Rel function by generating two types of mutant M. smegmatis strains: a rel nonsense mutant (rel (E4TAG)) in which translation is prematurely terminated at codon 4, and a rel deletion mutant (?rel) in which the entire coding sequence was deleted. Both mutants showed identical phenotypes: sparse septum formation, less DNA compaction, and failure in formation of both the septated multi-nucleoided LARCs and the small-cell morphotype SMRC under starvation conditions. All phenotypes were rescued through the introduction of a wild-type copy of rel. Therefore, we conclude that loss-of-function mutations in rel block the development of both LARCs and SMRCs by preventing the first morphogenetic step in mycobacterial resting cell development, the formation of septated multi-nucleoided cells. Interestingly, in contrast to Rel's role in most other bacteria, starvation survival was not affected by loss of rel function. Our results suggest that Rel may play a starvation-induced morphogenetic role in mycobacteria.
Project description:Mycobacteria, generally believed to be non-sporulating, are well known to survive shock starvation in saline for extended periods of time in a non-replicating state without any apparent morphological changes. Here, we uncover that mycobacteria can undergo cellular differentiation by exposing Mycobacterium smegmatis to mild starvation conditions. Traces of various carbon sources in saline triggered the development of a novel small resting cell (SMRC) morphotype. Development of SMRCs could also be observed for other mycobacteria, suggesting evolutionary conservation of this differentiation pathway. Fluorescence microscopic analyses showed that development of SMRCs progresses via septated, multi-nucleoided cell intermediates, which divide to generate mono-nucleoided SMRCs. Intriguingly, saline shock-starved large resting cells (LARCs), which did not show cell size or surface changes when observed by scanning electron microscopy, remodeled their internal structure to septated, multi-nucleoided cells, similar to the intermediates seen during differentiation to SMRCs. Our results suggest that mycobacteria harbor a starvation-induced differentiation program in which at first septated, multi-nucleoided cells are generated. Under zero-nutrient conditions bacteria terminate development at this stage as LARCs. In the presence of traces of a carbon source, these multi-nucleoided cells continue differentiation into mono-nucleoided SMRCs. Both SMRCs and LARCs exhibited extreme antibiotic tolerance. SMRCs showed increased long-term starvation survival, which was associated with the presence of lipid inclusion bodies.
Project description:Mycobacteria are known to be non-spore forming but very hardy: the bacilli can for instance survive starvation in zero-nutrient saline in a non-replicating state. Recently we reported that mycobacteria in fact can undergo cellular differentiation when exposed to different starvation conditions. The presence of traces of nutrients triggers the development of a new, ‘small resting cell’ form (SMRCs). Saline shock-starved large resting cells (LARCs), which did not show cell size or surface changes when observed by scanning electron microscopy, remodeled their internal structure to the septated, multi-nucleoided cells seen during differentiation to SMRCs. Here we conduct RNA-seq to gain greater insights into whether starvation elicited a distinct developmental pathway. Comparative transcriptome analysis of SMRC and LARC development revealed largely overlapping sets of differentially expressed regulatory and metabolic genes. These transcriptome data are consistent with a mycobacterial starvation-induced differentiation program in which at first septated, multi-nuceloided cells are generated. Under zero-nutrient conditions bacteria terminate development at this stage as LARCs. In the presence of traces of a carbon source, these multi-nucleoided cells continue differentiation into mono-nuleoided SMRCs. Overall design: Exponentially growing M. smegmatis in rich 7H9 medium (0h sample, baseline) was transferred to PBS or PBS-Tween80 and RNA was sampled and sequenced after 1h and 3h to capture immediate responses, and after 24h when LARC formation in PBS cultures and SMRC formation in PBS-Tween80 culture are completed. In addition we sampled 14d old starved cultures to determine long term gene expression changes.
Project description:Mycobacteria, along with exospore forming Streptomyces, belong to the phylum actinobacteria. Mycobacteria are generally believed to be non-differentiating. Recently however, we showed that the mycobacterial model organism M. smegmatis is capable of forming different types of morphologically distinct resting cells. When subjected to starvation conditions, cells of M. smegmatis exit from the canonical cell division cycle, segregate and compact their chromosomes, and become septated and multi-nucleoided. Under zero nutrient conditions the differentiation process terminates at this stage with the formation of Large Resting Cells (LARCs). In the presence of traces of carbon sources this multi-nucleoided cell stage completes cell division and separates into Small Resting Cells (SMRCs). Here, we carried out RNA-seq profiling of SMRC and LARC development to characterize the transcriptional program underlying these starvation-induced differentiation processes.Changes among the top modulated genes demonstrated that SMRCs and LARCs undergo similar transcriptional changes. The formation of multi-nucleoided cells (i.e. LARCs and the LARC-like intermediates observed during SMRC formation) was accompanied by upregulation of septum formation functions FtsZ, FtsW, and PbpB, as well as the DNA translocase FtsK. The observed compaction of chromosomes was accompanied by an increase of the transcript level of the DNA binding protein Hlp, an orthologue of the Streptomyces spore-specific chromosome condensation protein HupS. Both SMRC and LARC development were accompanied by similar temporal expression patterns of candidate regulators, including the transcription factors WhiB2, WhiB3, and WhiB4, which are orthologues of the Streptomyces sporulation regulators WhiB, WhiD and WblA, respectively.Transcriptional analyses of the development of mycobacterial resting cell types suggest that these bacteria harbor a novel differentiation program and identify a series of potential regulators. This provides the basis for the genetic dissection of this actinobacterial differentiation process.
Project description:Latency in Mycobacterium tuberculosis poses a barrier in its complete eradication. Overexpression of certain genes is one of the factors that help these bacilli survive inside the host during latency. Among these genes, rel, which leads to the expression of Rel protein, plays an important role by synthesizing the signaling molecule ppGpp using GDP and ATP as substrates, thereby changing bacterial physiology. In Gram-negative bacteria, the protein is thought to be activated in vivo in the presence of ribosome by sensing uncharged tRNA. In the present report, we show that Rel protein from Mycobacterium smegmatis, which is highly homologous to M. tuberculosis Rel, is functional even in the absence of ribosome and uncharged tRNA. From the experiments presented here, it appears that the activity of Rel(Msm) is regulated by the domains present at the C terminus, as the deletion of these domains results in higher synthesis activity, with little change in hydrolysis of ppGpp. However, in the presence of tRNA, though the synthesis activity of the full-length protein increases to a certain extent, the hydrolysis activity undergoes drastic reduction. Full-length Rel undergoes multimerization involving interchain disulfide bonds. The synthesis of pppGpp by the full-length protein is enhanced in the reduced environment in vitro, whereas the hydrolysis activity does not change significantly. Mutations of cysteines to serines result in monomerization with a simultaneous increase in the synthesis activity. Finally, it has been possible to identify the unique cysteine, of six present in Rel, required for tRNA-mediated synthesis of ppGpp.
Project description:Bacteria elicit an adaptive response against hostile conditions such as starvation and other kinds of stresses. Their ability to survive such conditions depends, in part, on stringent response pathways. (p)ppGpp, considered to be the master regulator of the stringent response, is a novel target for inhibiting the survival of bacteria. In mycobacteria, the (p)ppGpp synthetase activity of bifunctional Rel is critical for stress response and persistence inside a host. Our aim was to design an inhibitor of (p)ppGpp synthesis, monitor its efficiency using enzyme kinetics, and assess its phenotypic effects in mycobacteria. As such, new sets of inhibitors targeting (p)ppGpp synthesis were synthesized and characterized by mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. We observed significant inhibition of (p)ppGpp synthesis by RelMsm in the presence of designed inhibitors in a dose-dependent manner, which we further confirmed by monitoring the enzyme kinetics. The Rel enzyme inhibitor binding kinetics were investigated by isothermal titration calorimetry. Subsequently, the effects of the compounds on long-term persistence, biofilm formation, and biofilm disruption were assayed in Mycobacterium smegmatis, where inhibition in each case was observed. In vivo, (p)ppGpp levels were found to be downregulated in M. smegmatis treated with the synthetic inhibitors. The compounds reported here also inhibited biofilm formation by the pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis The compounds were tested for toxicity by using an MTT assay with H460 cells and a hemolysis assay with human red blood cells, for which they were found to be nontoxic. The permeability of compounds across the cell membrane of human lung epithelial cells was also confirmed by mass spectrometry.
Project description:Total transcriptome analyses were carried out to investigate changes in transcript patterns in the Mycobacterium smegmatis wild type strain SMR5 due to nitrogen starvation and to expand the knowledge about the role of the two transcriptional regulators of nitrogen metabolism, namely GlnR and AmtR, in these processes. A first experiment revealed enhanced transcript levels of 284 genes and reduced transcripts of 231 genes in the wild type under nitrogen starvation compared to nitrogen surplus. When glnR deletion strain MH1 was compared to the wild type under nitrogen starvation, decreased transcript levels of 125 genes were detected, indicating that these are activated by GlnR due to nitrogen limitation. Comparing amtR deletion strain YL1 to the wild type under nitrogen starvation, enhanced transcript levels of 2 genes were found, indicating that they are repressed by AmtR under nitrogen surplus. A comparison of YL1 and wild type under surplus, as well as a comparison of YL1 under nitrogen surplus and starvation and of MH1 under nitrogen surplus and starvation were carried out as additional control experiments. It can be concluded that GlnR is the master regulator of nitrogen control in M. smegmatis and that AmtR fulfills only a small, subordinate role in the regulation of an operon. This SuperSeries is composed of the following subset Series: GSE30033: Mycobacterium smegmatis - Comparison of glnR deletion strain MH1 under nitrogen surplus and starvation GSE30231: Mycobacterium smegmatis - Comparison of wild type SMR5 and amtR deletion strain YL1 under nitrogen starvation GSE30232: Mycobacterium smegmatis - Comparison of amtR deletion strain YL1 under nitrogen surplus and starvation GSE30233: Mycobacterium smegmatis - Comparison of wild type SMR5 under nitrogen surplus and starvation GSE30234: Mycobacterium smegmatis - Comparison of wild type SMR5 and glnR deletion strain MH1 under nitrogen starvation GSE30235: Mycobacterium smegmatis - Comparison of wild type SMR5 and amtR deletion strain YL1 under nitrogen surplus Refer to individual Series
Project description:Histone modifications regulate gene expression and chromosomal events, yet how histone-modifying enzymes are targeted is poorly understood. Here we report that a conserved DNA repair protein, SMRC-1, associates with MET-2, the C. elegans histone methyltransferase responsible for H3K9me1 and me2 deposition. We used molecular, genetic, and biochemical methods to investigate the biological role of SMRC-1 and to explore its relationship with MET-2. SMRC-1, like its mammalian ortholog SMARCAL1, provides protection from DNA replication stress. SMRC-1 limits accumulation of DNA damage and promotes germline and embryonic viability. MET-2 and SMRC-1 localize to mitotic and meiotic germline nuclei, and SMRC-1 promotes an increase in MET-2 abundance in mitotic germline nuclei upon replication stress. In the absence of SMRC-1, germline H3K9me2 generally decreases after multiple generations at high culture temperature. Genetic data are consistent with MET-2 and SMRC-1 functioning together to limit replication stress in the germ line and in parallel to promote other germline processes. We hypothesize that loss of SMRC-1 activity causes chronic replication stress, in part because of insufficient recruitment of MET-2 to nuclei.
Project description:Mycobacterial species are characterized by the presence of lipid-rich, hydrophobic cell envelopes. These cell envelopes contribute to properties such as roughness of colonies, aggregation of cells in liquid culture without detergent, and biofilm formation. We describe here a mutant strain of Mycobacterium smegmatis, called DL1215, which demonstrates marked deviations from the above-mentioned phenotypes. DL1215 arose spontaneously from a strain deficient for the stringent response (M. smegmatis Delta rel(Msm) strain) and is not a reversion to a wild-type phenotype. The nature of the spontaneous mutation was a single base-pair deletion in the lsr2 gene, leading to the formation of a truncated protein product. The DL1215 strain was complicated by having both inactivated rel(Msm) and lsr2 genes, and so a single lsr2 mutant was created to analyze the gene's function. The lsr2 gene was inactivated in the wild-type M. smegmatis mc(2)155 strain by allelic replacement to create strain DL2008. Strain DL2008 shows characteristics unique from those of both the wild-type and Delta rel(Msm) strains, some of which include a greatly enhanced ability to slide over agar surfaces (referred to here as "hypermotility"), greater resistance to phage infection and to the antibiotic kanamycin, and an inability to form biofilms. Complementation of the DL2008 mutant with a plasmid containing lsr2 (pLSR2) reverts the strain to the mc(2)155 phenotype. Although these phenotypic differences allude to changes in cell surface lipids, no difference is observed in glycopeptidolipids, polar lipids, apolar lipids, or mycolic acids of the cell wall.
Project description:In the noninfectious soil saprophyte Mycobacterium smegmatis, intracellular levels of the stress alarmones guanosine tetraphosphate and guanosine pentaphosphate, together termed (p)ppGpp, are regulated by the enzyme Rel(Msm). This enzyme consists of a single, bifunctional polypeptide chain that is capable of both synthesizing and hydrolyzing (p)ppGpp. The rel(Msm) knockout strain of M. smegmatis (?rel(Msm)) is expected to show a (p)ppGpp null [(p)ppGpp(0)] phenotype. Contrary to this expectation, the strain is capable of synthesizing (p)ppGpp in vivo. In this study, we identify and functionally characterize the open reading frame (ORF), MSMEG_5849, that encodes a second functional (p)ppGpp synthetase in M. smegmatis. In addition to (p)ppGpp synthesis, the 567-amino-acid-long protein encoded by this gene is capable of hydrolyzing RNA·DNA hybrids and bears similarity to the conventional RNase HII enzymes. We have classified this protein as actRel(Msm) in accordance with the recent nomenclature proposed and have named it MS_RHII-RSD, indicating the two enzymatic activities present [RHII, RNase HII domain, originally identified as domain of unknown function 429 (DUF429), and RSD, RelA_SpoT nucleotidyl transferase domain, the SYNTH domain responsible for (p)ppGpp synthesis activity]. MS_RHII-RSD is expressed and is constitutively active in vivo and behaves like a monofunctional (p)ppGpp synthetase in vitro. The occurrence of the RNase HII and (p)ppGpp synthetase domains together on the same polypeptide chain is suggestive of an in vivo role for this novel protein as a link connecting the essential life processes of DNA replication, repair, and transcription to the highly conserved stress survival pathway, the stringent response.
Project description:BACKGROUND: As other bacteria, Mycobacterium smegmatis needs adaption mechanisms to cope with changing nitrogen sources and to survive situations of nitrogen starvation. In the study presented here, transcriptome analyses were used to characterize the response of the bacterium to nitrogen starvation and to elucidate the role of specific transcriptional regulators. RESULTS: In response to nitrogen deprivation, a general starvation response is induced in M. smegmatis. This includes changes in the transcription of several hundred genes encoding e.g. transport proteins, proteins involved in nitrogen metabolism and regulation, energy generation and protein turnover. The specific nitrogen-related changes at the transcriptional level depend mainly on the presence of GlnR, while the AmtR protein controls only a small number of genes. CONCLUSIONS: M. smegmatis is able to metabolize a number of different nitrogen sources and nitrogen control in M. smegmatis is similar to control mechanisms characterized in streptomycetes, while the master regulator of nitrogen control in corynebacteria, AmtR, is plays a minor role in this regulatory network.