Visualization and characterization of Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 pellicles.
ABSTRACT: Cellulose, whose production is controlled by c-di-GMP, is a commonly found exopolysaccharide in bacterial biofilms. Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato (Pto) DC3000, a model organism for molecular studies of plant-pathogen interactions, carries the wssABCDEFGHI operon for the synthesis of acetylated cellulose. The high intracellular levels of the second messenger c-di-GMP induced by the overexpression of the heterologous diguanylate cyclase PleD stimulate cellulose production and enhance air-liquid biofilm (pellicle) formation. To characterize the mechanisms involved in Pto DC3000 pellicle formation, we studied this process using mutants lacking flagella, biosurfactant or different extracellular matrix components, and compared the pellicles produced in the absence and in the presence of PleD. We have discovered that neither alginate nor the biosurfactant syringafactin are needed for their formation, whereas cellulose and flagella are important but not essential. We have also observed that the high c-di-GMP levels conferred more cohesion to Pto cells within the pellicle and induced the formation of intracellular inclusion bodies and extracellular fibres and vesicles. Since the pellicles were very labile and this greatly hindered their handling and processing for microscopy, we have also developed new methods to collect and process them for scanning and transmission electron microscopy. These techniques open up new perspectives for the analysis of fragile biofilms in other bacterial strains.
Project description:Bacteria form biofilms as a means to adapt to environmental changes for survival. Pellicle is a floating biofilm formed at the air-liquid interface in static culture conditions; however, its functional roles have received relatively little attention compared to solid surface-associated biofilms in gram-negative bacteria. Here we show that the rice pathogen Burkholderia glumae BGR1 forms cellulase-sensitive pellicles in a bis-(3'-5')-cyclic dimeric guanosine monophosphate (c-di-GMP)- and flagellum-dependent, but quorum sensing (QS)-independent, manner. Pellicle formation was more favorable at 28°C than at the optimum growth temperature (37°C), and was facilitated by constitutive expression of pelI, a diguanylate cyclase gene from B. glumae, or pleD, the GGDEF response regulator from Agrobacterium tumefaciens. Constitutive expression of pelI or pleD raised the levels of c-di-GMP, facilitated pellicle formation, and suppressed swarming motility in B. glumae. QS-defective mutants of B. glumae formed pellicles, while flagellum-defective mutants did not. Pellicles of B. glumae were sensitive to cellulase but not to proteinase K or DNase I. A gene cluster containing seven genes involved in bacterial cellulose biosynthesis, bcsD, bcsR, bcsQ, bcsA, bcsB, bcsZ, and bcsC, homologous to known genes involved in cellulose biosynthesis in other bacteria, was identified in B. glumae. Mutations in each gene abolished pellicle formation. These results revealed a positive correlation between cellulase-sensitive pellicles and putative cellulose biosynthetic genes. Pellicle-defective mutants did not colonize as successfully as the wild-type strain BGR1 in rice plants, which resulted in a significant reduction in virulence. Our findings show that cellulase-sensitive pellicles produced in a QS-independent manner play important roles in the interactions between rice plants and B. glumae.
Project description:Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato DC3000 carries the wssABCDEFGHI operon for the synthesis of acetylated cellulose, whose production is stimulated by increasing the intracellular levels of the second messenger c-di-GMP. This enhances air-liquid biofilm formation and generates a wrinkly colony morphotype in solid media. In the present study we show that cellulose production is a complex process regulated at multiple levels and involving different players in this bacterium. Using different in vitro approaches, including Electrophoretic Mobility Shift Assay (EMSA) and footprint analysis, we demonstrated the interrelated role of two transcriptional regulators, AmrZ and FleQ, over cellulose production in Pto DC3000 and the influence of c-di-GMP in this process. Under physiological c-di-GMP levels, both regulators bind directly to adjacent regions at the wss promoter inhibiting its expression. However, just FleQ responds to c-di-GMP releasing from its wss operator site and converting from a repressor to an activator of cellulose production. The additive effect of the double amrZ/fleQ mutation on the expression of wss, together with the fact that they are not cross-regulated at the transcriptional level, suggest that FleQ and AmrZ behave as independent regulators, unlike what has been described in other Pseudomonas species. Furthermore, this dual co-regulation exerted by AmrZ and FleQ is not limited to cellulose production, but also affects other important phenotypes in Pto DC3000, such as motility and virulence.
Project description:The plant innate immune system employs plasma membrane-localized receptors that specifically perceive pathogen/microbe-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs/MAMPs). This induces a defence response called pattern-triggered immunity (PTI) to fend off pathogen attack. Commensal bacteria are also exposed to potential immune recognition and must employ strategies to evade and/or suppress PTI to successfully colonize the plant. During plant infection, the flagellum has an ambiguous role, acting as both a virulence factor and also as a potent immunogen as a result of the recognition of its main building block, flagellin, by the plant pattern recognition receptors (PRRs), including FLAGELLIN SENSING2 (FLS2). Therefore, strict control of flagella synthesis is especially important for plant-associated bacteria. Here, we show that cyclic-di-GMP [bis-(3'-5')-cyclic di-guanosine monophosphate], a central regulator of bacterial lifestyle, is involved in the evasion of PTI. Elevated cyclic-di-GMP levels in the pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato (Pto) DC3000, the opportunist P.?aeruginosa?PAO1 and the commensal P.?protegens?Pf-5 inhibit flagellin synthesis and help the bacteria to evade FLS2-mediated signalling in Nicotiana benthamiana and Arabidopsis thaliana. Despite this, high cellular cyclic-di-GMP concentrations were shown to drastically reduce the virulence of Pto?DC3000 during plant infection. We propose that this is a result of reduced flagellar motility and/or additional pleiotropic effects of cyclic-di-GMP signalling on bacterial behaviour.
Project description:Cyclic di-GMP (c-di-GMP) is a bacterial second messenger produced by GGDEF domain-containing proteins. The genome of Ehrlichia chaffeensis, an obligatory intracellular bacterium that causes human monocytic ehrlichiosis, encodes a single protein that contains a GGDEF domain, called PleD. In this study, we investigated the effects of c-di-GMP signaling on E. chaffeensis infection of the human monocytic cell line THP-1. Recombinant E. chaffeensis PleD showed diguanylate cyclase activity as it generated c-di-GMP in vitro. Because c-di-GMP is not cell permeable, the c-di-GMP hydrophobic analog 2'-O-di(tert-butyldimethylsilyl)-c-di-GMP (CDGA) was used to examine intracellular c-di-GMP signaling. CDGA activity was first tested with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium. CDGA inhibited well-defined c-di-GMP-regulated phenomena, including cellulose synthesis, clumping, and upregulation of csgD and adrA mRNA, indicating that CDGA acts as an antagonist in c-di-GMP signaling. [(32)P]c-di-GMP bound several E. chaffeensis native proteins and two E. chaffeensis recombinant I-site proteins, and this binding was blocked by CDGA. Although pretreatment of E. chaffeensis with CDGA did not reduce bacterial binding to THP-1 cells, bacterial internalization was reduced. CDGA facilitated protease-dependent degradation of particular, but not all, bacterial surface-exposed proteins, including TRP120, which is associated with bacterial internalization. Indeed, the serine protease HtrA was detected on the surface of E. chaffeensis, and TRP120 was degraded by treatment of E. chaffeensis with recombinant E. chaffeensis HtrA. Furthermore, anti-HtrA inhibited CDGA-induced TRP120 degradation. Our results suggest that E. chaffeensis invasion is regulated by c-di-GMP signaling, which stabilizes some bacterial surface-exposed proteins against proteases.
Project description:Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the etiologic agent of human granulocytic anaplasmosis (HGA), has genes predicted to encode three sensor kinases, one of which is annotated PleC, and three response regulators, one of which is PleD. Prior to this study, the roles of PleC and PleD in the obligatory intracellular parasitism of A. phagocytophilum and their biochemical activities were unknown. The present study illustrates the relevance of these factors by demonstrating that both pleC and pleD were expressed in an HGA patient. During A. phagocytophilum development in human promyelocytic HL-60 cells, PleC and PleD were synchronously upregulated at the exponential growth stage and downregulated prior to extracellular release. A recombinant PleC kinase domain (rPleCHKD) has histidine kinase activity; no activity was observed when the conserved site of phosphorylation was replaced with alanine. A recombinant PleD (rPleD) has autokinase activity using phosphorylated rPleCHKD as the phosphoryl donor but not with two other recombinant histidine kinases. rPleCHKD could not serve as the phosphoryl donor for a mutant rPleD (with a conserved aspartic acid, the site of phosphorylation, replaced by alanine) or two other A. phagocytophilum recombinant response regulators. rPleD had diguanylate cyclase activity to generate cyclic (c) di-GMP from GTP in vitro. UV cross-linking of A. phagocytophilum lysate with c-di-[(32)P]GMP detected an approximately 47-kDa endogenous protein, presumably c-di-GMP downstream receptor. A new hydrophobic c-di-GMP derivative, 2'-O-di(tert-butyldimethylsilyl)-c-di-GMP, inhibited A. phagocytophilum infection in HL-60 cells. Our results suggest that the two-component PleC-PleD system is a diguanylate cyclase and that a c-di-GMP-receptor complex regulates A. phagocytophilum intracellular infection.
Project description:Cellulose fibrils play a role in attachment of Agrobacterium tumefaciens to its plant host. While the genes for cellulose biosynthesis in the bacterium have been identified, little is known concerning the regulation of the process. The signal molecule cyclic di-GMP (c-di-GMP) has been linked to the regulation of exopolysaccharide biosynthesis in many bacterial species, including A. tumefaciens. In this study, we identified two putative diguanylate cyclase genes, celR (atu1297) and atu1060, that influence production of cellulose in A. tumefaciens. Overexpression of either gene resulted in increased cellulose production, while deletion of celR, but not atu1060, resulted in decreased cellulose biosynthesis. celR overexpression also affected other phenotypes, including biofilm formation, formation of a polar adhesion structure, plant surface attachment, and virulence, suggesting that the gene plays a role in regulating these processes. Analysis of celR and ?cel mutants allowed differentiation between phenotypes associated with cellulose production, such as biofilm formation, and phenotypes probably resulting from c-di-GMP signaling, which include polar adhesion, attachment to plant tissue, and virulence. Phylogenetic comparisons suggest that species containing both celR and celA, which encodes the catalytic subunit of cellulose synthase, adapted the CelR protein to regulate cellulose production while those that lack celA use CelR, called PleD, to regulate specific processes associated with polar localization and cell division.
Project description:Biofilm formation is responsible for increased antibiotic tolerance in pathogenic bacteria. Cyclic di-GMP (c-di-GMP) is a widely used second-messenger signal that plays a key role in bacterial biofilm formation. c-di-GMP is synthesized by diguanylate cyclases (DGCs), a conserved class of enzymes absent in mammals and hence considered attractive molecular targets for the development of antibiofilm agents. Here, the results of a virtual screening approach aimed at identifying small-molecule inhibitors of the DGC PleD from Caulobacter crescentus are described. A three-dimensional (3D) pharmacophore model, derived from the mode of binding of GTP to the active site of PleD, was exploited to screen the ZINC database of compounds. Seven virtual hits were tested in vitro for their ability to inhibit the activity of purified PleD by using circular dichroism spectroscopy. Two drug-like molecules with a catechol moiety and a sulfonohydrazide scaffold were shown to competitively inhibit PleD at the low-micromolar range (50% inhibitory concentration [IC50] of ?11 ?M). Their predicted binding mode highlighted key structural features presumably responsible for the efficient inhibition of PleD by both hits. These molecules represent the most potent in vitro inhibitors of PleD identified so far and could therefore result in useful leads for the development of novel classes of antimicrobials able to hamper biofilm formation.Biofilm-mediated infections are difficult to eradicate, posing a threatening health issue worldwide. The capability of bacteria to form biofilms is almost universally stimulated by the second messenger c-di-GMP. This evidence has boosted research in the last decade for the development of new antibiofilm strategies interfering with c-di-GMP metabolism. Here, two potent inhibitors of c-di-GMP synthesis have been identified in silico and characterized in vitro by using the well-characterized DGC enzyme PleD from C. crescentus as a structural template and molecular target. Given that the protein residues implied as crucial for enzyme inhibition are found to be highly conserved among DGCs, the outcome of this study could pave the way for the future development of broad-spectrum antibiofilm compounds.
Project description:Biofilm formation is a complex process involving various signaling pathways and changes in gene expression. Many of the sensory mechanisms and regulatory cascades involved have been defined for biofilms formed by diverse organisms attached to solid surfaces. By comparison, our knowledge on the basic mechanisms underlying the formation of biofilms at air-liquid interfaces, that is, pellicles, is much less complete. In particular, the roles of flagella have been studied in multiple solid-surface biofilm models but remain largely undefined for pellicles. In this work, we characterize the contributions of flagellum-based motility, chemotaxis and oxygen sensing to pellicle formation in the Gram-positive Bacillus subtilis. We confirm that flagellum-based motility is involved in, but is not absolutely essential for, B. subtilis pellicle formation. Further, we show that flagellum-based motility, chemotaxis and oxygen sensing are important for successful competition during B. subtilis pellicle formation. We report that flagellum-based motility similarly contributes to pellicle formation and fitness in competition assays in the Gram-negative Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Time-lapse imaging of static liquid cultures demonstrates that, in both B. subtilis and P. aeruginosa, a turbulent flow forms in the tube and a zone of clearing appears below the air-liquid interface just before the formation of the pellicle but only in strains that have flagella.
Project description:In Caulobacter crescentus, phosphorylation of key regulators is coordinated with the second messenger cyclic di-GMP to drive cell-cycle progression and differentiation. The diguanylate cyclase PleD directs pole morphogenesis, while the c-di-GMP effector PopA initiates degradation of the replication inhibitor CtrA by the AAA+ protease ClpXP to license S phase entry. Here, we establish a direct link between PleD and PopA reliant on the phosphodiesterase PdeA and the diguanylate cyclase DgcB. PdeA antagonizes DgcB activity until the G1-S transition, when PdeA is degraded by the ClpXP protease. The unopposed DgcB activity, together with PleD activation, upshifts c-di-GMP to drive PopA-dependent CtrA degradation and S phase entry. PdeA degradation requires CpdR, a response regulator that delivers PdeA to the ClpXP protease in a phosphorylation-dependent manner. Thus, CpdR serves as a crucial link between phosphorylation pathways and c-di-GMP metabolism to mediate protein degradation events that irreversibly and coordinately drive bacterial cell-cycle progression and development.
Project description:Sinorhizobium meliloti is a soil-dwelling symbiotic alphaproteobacterium. Cyclic di-GMP is an important second messenger controlling multiple functions in this microorganism. To understand transcriptional regulation by elevated c-di-GMP in S. meliloti, the transcriptome analysis was performed on the wild type strain S. meliloti Rm2011 carrying either an empty vector pWBT or diguanylate cyclase gene pleD overexpression plasmid pWBT-pleD.