Nutritional Regulation of the Sae Two-Component System by CodY in Staphylococcus aureus.
ABSTRACT: Staphylococcus aureus subverts innate defenses during infection in part by killing host immune cells to exacerbate disease. This human pathogen intercepts host cues and activates a transcriptional response via the S. aureus exoprotein expression (SaeR/SaeS [SaeR/S]) two-component system to secrete virulence factors critical for pathogenesis. We recently showed that the transcriptional repressor CodY adjusts nuclease (nuc) gene expression via SaeR/S, but the mechanism remained unknown. Here, we identified two CodY binding motifs upstream of the sae P1 promoter, which suggested direct regulation by this global regulator. We show that CodY shares a binding site with the positive activator SaeR and that alleviating direct CodY repression at this site is sufficient to abrogate stochastic expression, suggesting that CodY represses sae expression by blocking SaeR binding. Epistasis experiments support a model that CodY also controls sae indirectly through Agr and Rot-mediated repression of the sae P1 promoter. We also demonstrate that CodY repression of sae restrains production of secreted cytotoxins that kill human neutrophils. We conclude that CodY plays a previously unrecognized role in controlling virulence gene expression via SaeR/S and suggest a mechanism by which CodY acts as a master regulator of pathogenesis by tying nutrient availability to virulence gene expression.IMPORTANCE Bacterial mechanisms that mediate the switch from a commensal to pathogenic lifestyle are among the biggest unanswered questions in infectious disease research. Since the expression of most virulence genes is often correlated with nutrient depletion, this implies that virulence is a response to the lack of nourishment in host tissues and that pathogens like S. aureus produce virulence factors in order to gain access to nutrients in the host. Here, we show that specific nutrient depletion signals appear to be funneled to the SaeR/S system through the global regulator CodY. Our findings reveal a strategy by which S. aureus delays the production of immune evasion and immune-cell-killing proteins until key nutrients are depleted.
Project description:Staphylococcus aureus produces numerous virulence factors but little is known about their in vivo regulation during an infection.The production of capsule and ?-toxin, and the expression of their respective genes, cap5 and hla, were analyzed by comparing CYL11481 (derivative of Newman) and its isogenic regulatory mutants in vitro. The temporal expression of cap5 and hla and the regulatory genes in vivo was carried out using a rat infective endocarditis model.In vitro analyses showed that capsule was positively regulated by MgrA, Agr, Sae, ArlR, and ClpC, and negatively by CodY and SbcDC. The ?-toxin was positively regulated by MgrA, Agr, Sae, ArlR, and SbcDC but negatively by ClpC and CodY. In vivo analyses showed that cap5 expression correlated best with mgrA expression, whereas hla expression correlated best with sae expression. Mutation in mgrA drastically reduced cap5 expression in vivo.Our results suggest that, in vitro, Agr is the most important regulator for capsule and ?-toxin production, as well as for cap5 transcription, but SaeR is the most critical for hla transcription. However, in vivo, MgrA is the major transcriptional regulator of capsule, but not ?-toxin, whereas saeR expression correlates best with hla expression.
Project description:The global regulator CodY controls the expression of dozens of metabolism and virulence genes in the opportunistic pathogen Staphylococcus aureus in response to the availability of isoleucine, leucine and valine (ILV), and GTP. Using RNA-Seq transcriptional profiling and partial activity variants, we reveal that S. aureus CodY activity grades metabolic and virulence gene expression as a function of ILV availability, mediating metabolic reorganization and controlling virulence factor production in vitro. Strains lacking CodY regulatory activity produce a PIA-dependent biofilm, but development is restricted under conditions that confer partial CodY activity. CodY regulates the expression of thermonuclease (nuc) via the Sae two-component system, revealing cascading virulence regulation and factor production as CodY activity is reduced. Proteins that mediate the host-pathogen interaction and subvert the immune response are shut off at intermediate levels of CodY activity, while genes coding for enzymes and proteins that extract nutrients from tissue, that kill host cells, and that synthesize amino acids are among the last genes to be derepressed. We conclude that S. aureus uses CodY to limit host damage to only the most severe starvation conditions, providing insight into one potential mechanism by which S. aureus transitions from a commensal bacterium to an invasive pathogen.
Project description:The saePQRS system of Staphylococcus aureus controls the expression of major virulence factors and encodes a histidine kinase (SaeS), a response regulator (SaeR), a membrane protein (SaeQ), and a lipoprotein (SaeP). The widely used strain Newman is characterized by a single amino acid change in the sensory domain of SaeS (Pro18 in strain Newman [SaeS(P)], compared with Leu18 in other strains [SaeS(L)]). SaeS(P) determines activation of the class I sae target genes (coa, fnbA, eap, sib, efb, fib, sae), which are highly expressed in strain Newman. In contrast, class II target genes (hla, hlb, cap) are not sensitive to the SaeS polymorphism. The SaeS(L) allele (saeS(L)) is dominant over the SaeS(P) allele, as shown by single-copy integration of saePQRS(L) in strain Newman, which results in severe repression of class I target genes. The differential effect on target gene expression is explained by different requirements for SaeR phosphorylation. From an analysis of saeS deletion strains and strains with mutated SaeR phosphorylation sites, we concluded that a high level of SaeR phosphorylation is required for activation of class I target genes. However, a low level of SaeR phosphorylation, which can occur independent of SaeS, is sufficient to activate class II target genes. Using inducible saeRS constructs, we showed that the expression of both types of target genes is independent of the saeRS dosage and that the typical growth phase-dependent gene expression pattern is not driven by SaeRS.
Project description:We characterized the sae operon, a global regulator for virulence gene expression in Staphylococcus aureus. A Tn917 sae mutant was obtained by screening a Tn917 library of the agr mutant ISP479Mu for clones with altered hemolytic activity. Sequence analysis of the sae operon revealed two additional open reading frames (ORFs) (ORF3 and ORF4) upstream of the two-component regulatory genes saeR and saeS. Four overlapping sae-specific transcripts (T1 to T4) were detected by Northern blot analysis, and the transcriptional initiation points were mapped by primer extension analysis. The T1, T2, and T3 mRNAs are probably terminated at the same stem-loop sequence downstream of saeS. The T1 message (3.1 kb) initiates upstream of ORF4, T2 (2.4 kb) initiates upstream of ORF3, and T3 (2.0 kb) initiates in front of saeR. T4 (0.7 kb) represents a monocistronic mRNA encompassing ORF4 only. sae-specific transcripts were detectable in all of the 40 different clinical S. aureus isolates investigated. Transcript levels were at maximum during the post-exponential growth phase. The sae mutant showed a significantly reduced rate of invasion of human endothelial cells, consistent with diminished transcription and expression of fnbA. The expression of type 5 capsular polysaccharide is activated in the sae mutant of strain Newman, as shown by immunofluorescence and promoter-reporter fusion experiments. In summary, the sae operon constitutes a four-component regulator system which acts on virulence gene expression in S. aureus.
Project description:Recently, dipeptide aureusimines were reported to activate expression of staphylococcal virulence genes, such as alpha-hemolysin, and increase S. aureus virulence. Surprisingly, most of the virulence genes affected by aureusimines form part of the regulon of the SaeRS two component system (TCS), raising the possibility that SaeRS might be directly or indirectly involved in the aureusimine-dependent signaling process.Using HPLC analyses, we confirmed that a transposon mutant of ausA, the gene encoding the aureusimine dipeptide synthesis enzyme, does not produce dipeptides. However, the transposon mutant showed normal hemolysis activity and alpha-hemolysin/SaeP production. Furthermore, the P1 promoter of the sae operon, one of the targets of the SaeRS TCS, showed normal transcription activity. Moreover, in contrast to the original report, the ausA transposon mutant did not exhibit attenuated virulence in an animal infection model. DNA sequencing revealed that the ausA deletion mutant used in the original study has an 83 nt-duplication in saeS. Hemolysis activity of the original mutant was restored by a plasmid carrying the sae operon. A mutant of the sae operon showed elevated resistance to chloramphenicol and erythromycin, two antibiotics widely used during staphylococcal mutagenesis. At 43°C in the presence of erythromycin and aeration, the conditions typically employed for staphylococcal mutagenesis, an saeR transposon mutant grew much faster than a control mutant and the saeR mutant was highly enriched in a mixed culture experiment.Our results show that the previously reported roles of aureusimines in staphylococcal gene regulation and virulence were due to an unintended mutation in saeS, which was likely selected due to elevated resistance of the mutant to environmental stresses. Thus, there is no evidence indicating that the dipeptide aureusimines play a role in sae-mediated virulence factor production or contribute to staphylococcal virulence.
Project description:In bacterial two-component regulatory systems (TCSs), dephosphorylation of phosphorylated response regulators is essential for resetting the activated systems to the pre-activation state. However, in the SaeRS TCS, a major virulence TCS of Staphylococcus aureus, the mechanism for dephosphorylation of the response regulator SaeR has not been identified. Here we report that two auxiliary proteins from the sae operon, SaeP and SaeQ, form a protein complex with the sensor kinase SaeS and activate the sensor kinase's phosphatase activity. Efficient activation of the phosphatase activity required the presence of both SaeP and SaeQ. When SaeP and SaeQ were ectopically expressed, the expression of coagulase, a sae target with low affinity for phosphorylated SaeR, was greatly reduced, while the expression of alpha-haemolysin, a sae target with high affinity for phosphorylated SaeR, was not, demonstrating a differential effect of SaePQ on sae target gene expression. When expression of SaePQ was abolished, most sae target genes were induced at an elevated level. Since the expression of SaeP and SaeQ is induced by the SaeRS TCS, these results suggest that the SaeRS TCS returns to the pre-activation state by a negative feedback mechanism.
Project description:In bacterial two-component regulatory systems (TCSs), dephosphorylation of phosphorylated response regulator is essential for resetting the activated systems to the pre-activation state. However, in the SaeRS TCS, a major virulence TCS of Staphylococcus aureus, the mechanism for dephosphorylation of the response regulator SaeR has not been identified. Here we report that two auxiliary proteins from the sae operon, SaeP and SaeQ, form a ternary complex with the sensor kinase SaeS and activate the sensor kinase’s phosphatase activity. Efficient activation of the phosphatase activity of SaeS required the presence of both SaeP and SaeQ. When SaeP and SaeQ were expressed, the expression of coagulase, a sae target with low affinity to phosphorylated SaeR, was greatly reduced, while the expression of alpha-hemolysin, a sae target with high affinity to phosphorylated SaeR, was not, demonstrating a differential effect of SaePQ on sae target gene expression. When expression of SaePQ was abolished, most sae target genes were induced at an elevated level. Since the expression of SaeP and SaeQ is induced by SaeRS TCS, these results suggest that the SaeRS TCS returns to pre-activation state by a negative feedback mechanism. To examine the global effect of SaePQ on sae target gene expression, we treated the wild type strain of USA300-P23 and its P1 promoter mutant with HNP-1 and analyzed the transcription of sae target genes by microarray assays. WT and P1 cells were compared against a each other at the same time point and against a T=0 reference.
Project description:More than 200 direct CodY target genes in Staphylococcus aureus were identified by genome-wide analysis of in vitro DNA binding. This analysis, which was confirmed for some genes by DNase I footprinting assays, revealed that CodY is a direct regulator of numerous transcription units associated with amino acid biosynthesis, transport of macromolecules, and virulence. The virulence genes regulated by CodY fell into three groups. One group was dependent on the Agr system for its expression; these genes were indirectly regulated by CodY through its repression of the agr locus. A second group was regulated directly by CodY. The third group, which includes genes for alpha-toxin and capsule synthesis, was regulated by CodY in two ways, i.e., by direct repression and by repression of the agr locus. Since S. aureus CodY was activated in vitro by the branched chain amino acids and GTP, CodY appears to link changes in intracellular metabolite pools with the induction of numerous adaptive responses, including virulence.
Project description:Capsule is one of many virulence factors produced by Staphylococcus aureus, and its expression is highly regulated. Here, we report the repression of capsule by direct interaction of XdrA and CodY with the capsule promoter region. We found, by footprinting analyses, that XdrA repressed capsule by binding to a broad region that extended from upstream of the -35 region of the promoter to the coding region of capA, the first gene of the 16-gene cap operon. Footprinting analyses also revealed that CodY bound to a large region that overlapped extensively with that of XdrA. We found that repression of the cap genes in the xdrA mutant could be achieved by the overexpression of codY but not vice versa, suggesting codY is epistatic to xdrA However, we found XdrA had no effect on CodY expression. These results suggest that XdrA plays a secondary role in capsule regulation by promoting CodY repression of the cap genes. Oxacillin slightly induced xdrA expression and reduced cap promoter activity, but the effect of oxacillin on capsule was not mediated through XdrA.IMPORTANCEStaphylococcus aureus employs a complex regulatory network to coordinate the expression of various virulence genes to achieve successful infections. How virulence genes are coordinately regulated is still poorly understood. We have been studying capsule regulation as a model system to explore regulatory networking in S. aureus In this study, we found that XdrA and CodY have broad binding sites that overlap extensively in the capsule promoter region. Our results also suggest that XdrA assists CodY in the repression of capsule. As capsule gene regulation by DNA-binding regulators has not been fully investigated, the results presented here fill an important knowledge gap, thereby further advancing our understanding of the global virulence regulatory network in S. aureus.
Project description:The ability of Staphylococcus aureus to infect tissues is dependent on precise control of virulence through gene-regulatory systems. While the SaeR/S two-component system has been shown to be a major regulator of S. aureus virulence, the influence of the host environment on SaeR/S-regulated genes (saeR/S targets) remains incompletely defined. Using QuantiGene 2.0 transcriptional assays, we examined expression of genes with the SaeR binding site in USA300 exposed to human and mouse neutrophils and host-derived peptides and during subcutaneous skin infection. We found that only some of the saeR/S targets, as opposed to the entire SaeR/S virulon, were activated within 5 and 10 min of interacting with human neutrophils as well as ?-defensin. Furthermore, mouse neutrophils promoted transcription of saeR/S targets despite lacking ?-defensin, and the murine skin environment elicited a distinctive expression profile of saeR/S targets. These findings indicate that saeR/S-mediated transcription is unique to and dependent on specific host stimuli. By using isogenic USA300?saeR/S and USA300?agr knockout strains, we also determined that SaeR/S is the major regulator of virulence factors, while Agr, a quorum-sensing two-component system, has moderate influence on transcription of the saeR/S targets under the tested physiological conditions.