Feedback regulation of Caulobacter crescentus holdfast synthesis by flagellum assembly via the holdfast inhibitor HfiA.
ABSTRACT: To permanently attach to surfaces, Caulobacter crescentusproduces a strong adhesive, the holdfast. The timing of holdfast synthesis is developmentally regulated by cell cycle cues. When C. crescentusis grown in a complex medium, holdfast synthesis can also be stimulated by surface sensing, in which swarmer cells rapidly synthesize holdfast in direct response to surface contact. In contrast to growth in complex medium, here we show that when cells are grown in a defined medium, surface contact does not trigger holdfast synthesis. Moreover, we show that in a defined medium, flagellum synthesis and regulation of holdfast production are linked. In these conditions, mutants lacking a flagellum attach to surfaces over time more efficiently than either wild-type strains or strains harboring a paralyzed flagellum. Enhanced adhesion in mutants lacking flagellar components is due to premature holdfast synthesis during the cell cycle and is regulated by the holdfast synthesis inhibitor HfiA. hfiA transcription is reduced in flagellar mutants and this reduction is modulated by the diguanylate cyclase developmental regulator PleD. We also show that, in contrast to previous predictions, flagella are not necessarily required for C. crescentus surface sensing in the absence of flow, and that arrest of flagellar rotation does not stimulate holdfast synthesis. Rather, our data support a model in which flagellum assembly feeds back to control holdfast synthesis via HfiA expression in a c-di-GMP-dependent manner under defined nutrient conditions.
Project description:Caulobacter crescentus attachment is mediated by the holdfast, a complex of polysaccharide anchored to the cell by HfaA, HfaB and HfaD. We show that all three proteins are surface exposed outer membrane (OM) proteins. HfaA is similar to fimbrial proteins and assembles into a high molecular weight (HMW) form requiring HfaD, but not holdfast polysaccharide. The HfaD HMW form is dependent on HfaA but not on holdfast polysaccharide. We show that HfaA and HfaD form homomultimers and that they require HfaB for stability and OM translocation. All three proteins localize to the late pre-divisional flagellar pole, remain at this pole in swarmer cells, and localize at the stalk tip after the stalk is synthesized at the same pole. Hfa protein localization requires the holdfast polysaccharide secretion proteins and the polar localization factor PodJ. An hfaB mutant is much more severely deficient in adherence and holdfast attachment than hfaA and hfaD mutants. An hfaA, hfaD double mutant phenocopies either single mutant, suggesting that HfaB is involved in holdfast attachment beyond secretion of HfaA and HfaD. We hypothesize that HfaB secretes HfaA and HfaD across the outer membrane, and the three proteins form a complex anchoring the holdfast to the stalk.
Project description:Caulobacter crescentus cells adhere to surfaces by using an extremely strong polar adhesin called the holdfast. The polysaccharide component of the holdfast is comprised in part of oligomers of N-acetylglucosamine. The genes involved in the export of the holdfast polysaccharide and the anchoring of the holdfast to the cell were previously discovered. In this study, we identified a cluster of polysaccharide biosynthesis genes (hfsEFGH) directly adjacent to the holdfast polysaccharide export genes. Sequence analysis indicated that these genes are involved in the biosynthesis of the minimum repeat unit of the holdfast polysaccharide. HfsE is predicted to be a UDP-sugar lipid-carrier transferase, the glycosyltransferase that catalyzes the first step in polysaccharide biosynthesis. HfsF is predicted to be a flippase, HfsG is a glycosyltransferase, and HfsH is similar to a polysaccharide (chitin) deacetylase. In-frame hfsG and hfsH deletion mutants resulted in severe deficiencies both in surface adhesion and in binding to the holdfast-specific lectin wheat germ agglutinin. In contrast, hfsE and hfsF mutants exhibited nearly wild-type levels of adhesion and holdfast synthesis. We identified three paralogs to hfsE, two of which are redundant to hfsE for holdfast synthesis. We also identified a redundant paralog to the hfsC gene, encoding the putative polysaccharide polymerase, and present evidence that the hfsE and hfsC paralogs, together with the hfs genes, are absolutely required for proper holdfast synthesis.
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:Adhesion allows microbes to colonize surfaces and is the first stage in biofilm formation. Stable attachment of the freshwater alphaproteobacterium Caulobacter crescentus to surfaces requires an adhesive polysaccharide called holdfast, which is synthesized at a specific cell pole and ultimately found at the tip of cylindrical extensions of the cell envelope called stalks. Secretion and anchoring of holdfast to the cell surface are governed by proteins HfsDAB and HfaABD, respectively. The arrangement and organization of these proteins with respect to each other and the cell envelope, and the mechanism by which the holdfast is anchored on cells, are unknown. In this study, we have imaged a series of C. crescentus mutants using electron cryotomography, revealing the architecture and arrangement of the molecular machinery involved in holdfast anchoring in cells. We found that the holdfast is anchored to cells by a defined complex made up of the HfaABD proteins and that the HfsDAB secretion proteins are essential for proper assembly and localization of the HfaABD anchor. Subtomogram averaging of cell stalk tips showed that the HfaABD complex spans the outer membrane. The anchor protein HfaB is the major component of the anchor complex located on the periplasmic side of the outer membrane, while HfaA and HfaD are located on the cell surface. HfaB is the critical component of the complex, without which no HfaABD complex was observed in cells. These results allow us to propose a working model of holdfast anchoring, laying the groundwork for further structural and cell biological investigations.IMPORTANCE Adhesion and biofilm formation are fundamental processes that accompany bacterial colonization of surfaces, which are of critical importance in many infections. Caulobacter crescentus biofilm formation proceeds via irreversible adhesion mediated by a polar polysaccharide called holdfast. Mechanistic and structural details of how the holdfast is secreted and anchored on cells are still lacking. Here, we have assigned the location and described the arrangement of the holdfast anchor complex. This work increases our knowledge of the relatively underexplored field of polysaccharide-mediated adhesion by identifying structural elements that anchor polysaccharides to the cell envelope, which is important in a variety of bacterial species.
Project description:Subcellular protein localization is thought to promote protein-protein interaction by increasing the effective concentration and enabling spatial co-ordination and proper segregation of proteins. We found that protein overexpression allowed the assembly of a productive polysaccharide biosynthesis-export-anchoring complex in the absence of polar localization in Caulobacter crescentus. Polar localization of the holdfast export protein, HfsD, depends on the presence of the other export proteins, HfsA and HfsB, and on the polar scaffold protein PodJ. The holdfast deficiency of hfsB and podJ mutants is suppressed by the overexpression of export proteins. Restored holdfasts are randomly positioned and colocalize with a holdfast anchor protein in these strains, indicating that functional complexes can form at non-polar sites. Therefore, overexpression of export proteins surpasses a concentration threshold necessary for holdfast synthesis. Restoration of holdfast synthesis at non-polar sites reduces surface adhesion, consistent with the need to spatially co-ordinate the holdfast synthesis machinery with the flagellum and pili. These strains lack the cell-specific segregation of the holdfast, resulting in the presence of holdfasts in motile daughter cells. Our results highlight the fact that multiple facets of subcellular localization can be coupled to improve the phenotypic outcome of a protein assembly.
Project description:Bacterial genomes evolve in complex ecosystems and are best understood in this natural context, but replicating such conditions in the lab is challenging. We used transposon sequencing to define the fitness consequences of gene disruption in the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus grown in natural freshwater, compared with axenic growth in common laboratory media. Gene disruptions in amino-acid and nucleotide sugar biosynthesis pathways and in metabolic substrate transport machinery impaired fitness in both lake water and defined minimal medium relative to complex peptone broth. Fitness in lake water was enhanced by insertions in genes required for flagellum biosynthesis and reduced by insertions in genes involved in biosynthesis of the holdfast surface adhesin. We further uncovered numerous hypothetical and uncharacterized genes for which disruption impaired fitness in lake water, defined minimal medium, or both. At the genome scale, the fitness profile of mutants cultivated in lake water was more similar to that in complex peptone broth than in defined minimal medium. Microfiltration of lake water did not significantly affect the terminal cell density or the fitness profile of the transposon mutant pool, suggesting that Caulobacter does not strongly interact with other microbes in this ecosystem on the measured timescale. Fitness of select mutants with defects in cell surface biosynthesis and environmental sensing were significantly more variable across days in lake water than in defined medium, presumably owing to day-to-day heterogeneity in the lake environment. This study reveals genetic interactions between Caulobacter and a natural freshwater environment, and provides a new avenue to study gene function in complex ecosystems.
Project description:Caulobacter crescentus firmly adheres to surfaces with a structure known as the holdfast, which is located at the flagellar pole of swarmer cells and at the stalk tip in stalked cells. A three-gene cluster (hfaAB and hfaC) is involved in attachment of the holdfast to the cell. Deletion and complementation analysis of the hfaAB locus revealed two genes in a single operon; both were required for holdfast attachment to the cell. Sequence analysis of the hfaAB locus showed two open reading frames with the potential to encode proteins of 15,000 and 26,000 Da, respectively. A protein migrating with an apparent size of 21 kDa in gel electrophoresis was encoded by the hfaA region when expressed in Escherichia coli under the control of the lac promoter, but no protein synthesis could be detected from the hfaB region. S1 nuclease analysis indicated that transcription of the hfaAB locus was initiated from a region containing a sequence nearly identical to the consensus for C. crescentus sigma 54-dependent promoters. In addition, a sequence with some similarity to ftr sequences (a consensus sequence associated with other Caulobacter sigma 54-dependent genes) was identified upstream of the hypothesized sigma 54 promoter. At least one of the hfaAB gene products was required for maximal transcription of hfaC. The sequence of hfaB showed some similarity to that of transcriptional activators of other bacteria. The C-terminal region of the putative gene product HfaA was found to be homologous to PapG and SmfG, which are adhesin molecules of enteropathogenic E. coli and Serratia marcescens, respectively. This information suggests that the protein encoded by the hfaA locus may have a direct role in the attachment of the holdfast to the cell, whereas hfaB may be involved in the positive regulation of hfaC.
Project description:A rhizosphere Gram-positive bacterial isolate, Paenibacillus sp. NAIST15-1, exhibits intriguing motility behavior on hard agar medium. Paenibacillus sp. shows increased transcription of flagellar genes and hyperflagellation when transferred from liquid to solid medium. Hyperflagellated cells form wandering colonies that are capable of moving around on the surface of medium containing ?1.5% agar. Transposon mutagenesis was used to identify genes critical for motility. In addition to flagellar genes, this mutagenesis identified five nonflagellar structural genes that were important for motility. Of these, the disruption of degSU, wsfP, or PBN151_4312 resulted in a complete loss of flagellin synthesis. Analysis of flagellar gene promoter activity showed that each mutation severely reduced flagellar gene transcription in a different manner. Flagellar gene transcription was induced in liquid medium by the addition of a viscous agent, Ficoll, or by disruption of flagellar stator genes, indicating that flagellar gene transcription was induced in response to restriction of flagellar rotation. Overexpression of DegSU bypassed the requirement of flagellar rotation restriction for induction of flagellar genes. These results indicate that physical restriction of flagellar rotation by physical contact with the surface of solid medium induces flagellar gene transcription through the activation of DegSU. Further analysis revealed that the same mechanism was conserved in Bacillus subtilis These results demonstrate that flagella act as mechanosensors to control flagellar transcription in Gram-positive bacteria.IMPORTANCE Many bacteria exist on living or nonliving surfaces in nature. Bacteria express distinct behaviors, such as surface motility and biofilm formation, to adapt to surfaces. However, it remains largely unknown how bacteria sense the surfaces on which they sit and how they induce the genes needed for growth on a surface. Swarming motility is flagellum-dependent motility on a surface. The Gram-positive bacterium Paenibacillus sp. exhibits strong swarming motility ability and is capable of moving on 1.5% agar medium. In this study, we showed that the two-component system DegSU was responsible for inducing flagellar genes in response to heavy loads on flagellar rotation in Paenibacillus sp. The same mechanism was conserved in a related species, B. subtilis, even though these two bacteria exhibit very different motility behaviors. This study shows that flagellum serves as a sensor for surface contact to induce flagellar gene transcription in these bacteria.
Project description:To colonize surfaces, the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus employs a polar polysaccharide, the holdfast, located at the end of a thin, long stalk protruding from the cell body. Unlike many other bacteria which adhere through an extended extracellular polymeric network, the holdfast footprint area is tens of thousands times smaller than that of the total bacterium cross-sectional surface, making for some very demanding adhesion requirements. At present, the mechanism of holdfast adhesion remains poorly understood. We explore it here along three lines of investigation: (a) the impact of environmental conditions on holdfast binding affinity, (b) adhesion kinetics by dynamic force spectroscopy, and (c) kinetic modeling of the attachment process to interpret the observed time-dependence of the adhesion force at short and long time scales. A picture emerged in which discrete molecular units called adhesins are responsible for initial holdfast adhesion, by acting in a cooperative manner.
Project description:Attachment to surfaces by the prosthecate bacterium Caulobacter crescentus is mediated by an adhesive organelle, the holdfast, found at the tip of the stalk. Indirect evidence suggested that the holdfast first appears at the swarmer pole of the predivisional cell. We used fluorescently labeled lectin and transmission electron microscopy to detect the holdfast in different cell types. While the holdfast was readily detectable in stalked cells and at the stalked poles of predivisional cells, we were unable to detect the holdfast in swarmer cells or at the flagellated poles of predivisional cells. This suggests that exposure of the holdfast to the outside of the cell occurs during the differentiation of swarmer to stalked cells. To investigate the timing of holdfast synthesis and exposure to the outside of the cell, we have examined the regulation of a holdfast attachment gene, hfaA. The hfaA gene is part of a cluster of four genes (hfaABDC), identified in strain CB2A and involved in attachment of the holdfast to the polar region of the cell. We have identified the hfaA gene in the synchronizable C. crescentus strain CB15. The sequence of the CB2A hfaA promoter suggested that it was regulated by sigma54. We show that the transcription of hfaA from either strain is not dependent on sigma54. Using a hfaA-lacZ fusion, we show that the transcription of hfaA is temporally regulated during the cell cycle, with maximal expression in late-predivisional cells. This increase in expression is largely due to the preferential transcription of hfaA in the swarmer pole of the predivisional cell.