Regulation of bacterial surface attachment by a network of sensory transduction proteins.
ABSTRACT: Bacteria are often attached to surfaces in natural ecosystems. A surface-associated lifestyle can have advantages, but shifts in the physiochemical state of the environment may result in conditions in which attachment has a negative fitness impact. Therefore, bacteria employ numerous mechanisms to control the transition from an unattached to a sessile state. The Caulobacter crescentus protein HfiA is a potent developmental inhibitor of the secreted polysaccharide adhesin known as the holdfast, which enables permanent attachment to surfaces. Multiple environmental cues influence expression of hfiA, but mechanisms of hfiA regulation remain largely undefined. Through a forward genetic selection, we have discovered a multi-gene network encoding a suite of two-component system (TCS) proteins and transcription factors that coordinately control hfiA transcription, holdfast development and surface adhesion. The hybrid HWE-family histidine kinase, SkaH, is central among these regulators and forms heteromeric complexes with the kinases, LovK and SpdS. The response regulator SpdR indirectly inhibits hfiA expression by activating two XRE-family transcription factors that directly bind the hfiA promoter to repress its transcription. This study provides evidence for a model in which a consortium of environmental sensors and transcriptional regulators integrate environmental cues at the hfiA promoter to control the attachment decision.
Project description:As bacterial cells enter stationary phase, they adjust their growth rate to comply with nutrient restriction and acquire increased resistance to several stresses. These events are regulated by controlling gene expression at this phase, changing the mode of exponential growth into that of growth arrest, and increasing the expression of proteins involved in stress resistance. The two-component system SpdR/SpdS is required for the activation of transcription of the Caulobacter crescentus cspD gene at the onset of stationary phase.In this work, we showed that both SpdR and SpdS are also induced upon entry into stationary phase, and this induction is partly mediated by ppGpp and it is not auto-regulated. Global transcriptional analysis at early stationary phase of a spdR null mutant strain compared to the wild type strain was carried out by DNA microarray. Twenty-three genes showed at least twofold decreased expression in the spdR deletion mutant strain relative to its parental strain, including cspD, while five genes showed increased expression in the mutant. The expression of a set of nine genes was evaluated by quantitative real time PCR, validating the microarray data, and indicating an important role for SpdR at stationary phase. Several of the differentially expressed genes can be involved in modulating gene expression, including four transcriptional regulators, and the RNA regulatory protein Hfq. The ribosomal proteins NusE and NusG, which also have additional regulatory functions in transcription and translation, were also downregulated in the spdR mutant, as well as the ParE1 toxin. The purified SpdR protein was shown to bind to the regulatory region of CC0517 by Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay, and the SpdR-regulated gene CC0731 was shown to be expressed at a lower level in the null cspD mutant, suggesting that at least part of the effect of SpdR on the expression of this gene is indirect.The results indicate that SpdR regulates several genes encoding proteins of regulatory function, which in turn may be required for the expression of other genes important for the transition to stationary phase.
Project description:Alphaproteobacteria commonly produce a polar adhesin that is anchored to the exterior of the cell envelope. In Caulobacter crescentus, this adhesin enables permanent attachment to solid surfaces and is known as the holdfast. An ensemble of two-component signal transduction (TCS) proteins control C. crescentus holdfast biogenesis by indirectly regulating expression of HfiA, a potent holdfast inhibitor. We designed a genetic screen to identify regulators of hfiA that function downstream of the TCS adhesion regulatory system. This screen identified a hypothetical protein that we have named RtrC. Though the primary structure of RtrC does not match any defined sequence family, we demonstrate that RtrC directly binds and regulates dozens of sites on the C. crescentus chromosome via a pseudo-palindromic motif. Among these binding sites is the hfiA promoter where RtrC functions to repress transcription and thereby activate holdfast biogenesis. RtrC forms an OR-gated type I coherent feedforward loop with the DNA-binding response regulator SpdR and the adhesion regulator RtrB. This type of network motif is known to buffer gene expression against transient loss of regulating signals. We further demonstrate that, in addition to promoting adhesion, RtrC expression influences cell motility in soft agar. We conclude that the formerly hypothetical gene, rtrC, encodes a transcription factor that functions downstream of the C. crescentus TCS adhesion control system to regulate holdfast biogenesis and motility. Overall design: RNA-sequencng from cells overexpressing rtrC
Project description:Alphaproteobacteria commonly produce a polar adhesin that is anchored to the exterior of the cell envelope. In Caulobacter crescentus, this adhesin enables permanent attachment to solid surfaces and is known as the holdfast. An ensemble of two-component signal transduction (TCS) proteins control C. crescentus holdfast biogenesis by indirectly regulating expression of HfiA, a potent holdfast inhibitor. We designed a genetic screen to identify regulators of hfiA that function downstream of the TCS adhesion regulatory system. This screen identified a hypothetical protein that we have named RtrC. Though the primary structure of RtrC does not match any defined sequence family, we demonstrate that RtrC directly binds and regulates dozens of sites on the C. crescentus chromosome via a pseudo-palindromic motif. Among these binding sites is the hfiA promoter where RtrC functions to repress transcription and thereby activate holdfast biogenesis. RtrC forms an OR-gated type I coherent feedforward loop with the DNA-binding response regulator SpdR and the adhesion regulator RtrB. This type of network motif is known to buffer gene expression against transient loss of regulating signals. We further demonstrate that, in addition to promoting adhesion, RtrC expression influences cell motility in soft agar. We conclude that the formerly hypothetical gene, rtrC, encodes a transcription factor that functions downstream of the C. crescentus TCS adhesion control system to regulate holdfast biogenesis and motility. Overall design: Chromatin Immunoprecipitation sequencing (ChIP-seq) for 3xFLAG-tagged rtrC
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: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.
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: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:The attachment of bacteria to surfaces provides advantages such as increasing nutrient access and resistance to environmental stress. Attachment begins with a reversible phase, often mediated by surface structures such as flagella and pili, followed by a transition to irreversible attachment, typically mediated by polysaccharides. Here we show that the interplay between pili and flagellum rotation stimulates the rapid transition between reversible and polysaccharide-mediated irreversible attachment. We found that reversible attachment of Caulobacter crescentus cells is mediated by motile cells bearing pili and that their contact with a surface results in the rapid pili-dependent arrest of flagellum rotation and concurrent stimulation of polar holdfast adhesive polysaccharide. Similar stimulation of polar adhesin production by surface contact occurs in Asticcacaulis biprosthecum and Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Therefore, single bacterial cells respond to their initial contact with surfaces by triggering just-in-time adhesin production. This mechanism restricts stable attachment to intimate surface interactions, thereby maximizing surface attachment, discouraging non-productive self-adherence, and preventing curing of the adhesive.
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:Flavin-binding LOV domains are blue-light photosensory modules that are conserved in a number of developmental and circadian regulatory proteins in plants, algae, and fungi. LOV domains are also present in bacterial genomes, and are commonly located at the amino termini of sensor histidine kinases. Genes predicted to encode LOV-histidine kinases are conserved across a broad range of bacterial taxa, from aquatic oligotrophs to plant and mammalian pathogens. However, the function of these putative prokaryotic photoreceptors remains largely undefined. The differentiating bacterium, Caulobacter crescentus, contains an operon encoding a two-component signaling system consisting of a LOV-histidine kinase, LovK, and a single-domain response regulator, LovR. LovK binds a flavin cofactor, undergoes a reversible photocycle, and displays increased ATPase and autophosphorylation activity in response to visible light. Deletion of the response regulator gene, lovR, results in severe attenuation of cell attachment to a glass surface under laminar flow, whereas coordinate, low-level overexpression of lovK and lovR results in a light-independent increase in cell-cell attachment, a response that requires both the conserved histidine phosphorylation site in LovK and aspartate phosphorylation site in LovR. Growing C. crescentus in the presence of blue light dramatically enhances cell-cell attachment in the lovK-lovR overexpression background. A conserved cysteine residue in the LOV domain of LovK, which forms a covalent adduct with the flavin cofactor upon absorption of visible light, is necessary for the light-dependent regulation of LovK enzyme activity and is required for the light-dependent enhancement of intercellular attachment.